Whose Master Plan are we following anyway? Part 3
This is the way I see it, in 3 parts. (Read Part 1 and Part 2 first)
At present, there is discussion that our fire stations are in need of extensive repairs and remodeling. The city says the remodeling will cost almost as much as new buildings. The idea of relocating them and building new is explored by a task force. The cost for this is between $4 and $6 million. Relocated where? Calhoun Road! All three on the same road. No matter that the area without 4 minute response times has increased, and the area of overlapping 4 minute response times increased too.
Station 3 would be relocated to Calhoun near Greenfield; station 2 to Calhoun near Capitol. Interestingly, both new locations are very near the developer’s properties (Capitol Heights, Willow Brook, Stanford Place, Berkshire Heights, Berkshire Hills, The Haven, and Vincent Park in the north). These properties now all fall within the 4 minute zone. Somehow, this benefits him: lower insurance rates possibly? His future convention center property already was in the Moorland fire station 4 minute zone, but he needed the station moved to Calhoun Road to legitimize the new Calhoun interchange.
The new site on Greenfield and Calhoun Road may not have been considered for a fire station if that south of the interstate section of Calhoun remained a 2 lane road at 25 mph. But, not to worry, the widening to 4 lanes and increase to 35mph has already been approved. People are objecting to the Calhoun relocation site for many reasons. Some point out it has no immediate interstate access. Not to worry, again: The neutral replacement bridge could accommodate an interchange! So, moving fire station 3 creates an artificial need to add an interchange.
You can see the relocation of fire station 3 is the key to the developer’s convention center success. That relocation will set into motion the remaining pieces of the puzzle for the developer’s convention center (or whatever he is planning). The fire station move will validate the road widening (conveniently already included in a previous budget?) It will necessitate the interchange addition at Calhoun to provide a faster response time to interstate accidents.
Where is the developer in all of this? That remains a mystery. Can we assume he is not involved at all in city planning? No, we cannot. Why? Because historically, he was involved in discussions with the City concerning the trade for Swanson school (Remember the Swanson Swap was a school district issue not a city issue.)
The developer is a very intelligent man and is good at what he does: He builds beautiful properties (too dense, but attractive). He is patient. He is careful not to have filed any plans yet with the city. When asked what he is planning for that vacant parcel, the city can say, we don’t know—no plans have been filed. Yet the city is planning a colossal widening project for the adjacent roadway, fire protection, and an interchange as if they do know.
You tell me, whose master plan are they following?
Coming up next: Report from the HRPS committee