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The Proposed QuikTrip Doesn’t Work In An Urban City

February 20, 2015 Board of Aldermen, Featured, Planning & Design, Real Estate, Retail 30 Comments

Chouteau Ave, an East-West roadway, was once like most St. Louis streets — lined with urban buildings on both sides.

Chouteau West of Jefferson in 1908, click image to see full size source
Chouteau West of Jefferson in 1908, click image to see full size source
Vin de Set and PW Pizza are popular destinations, causing people to cross Chouteau often. April 2012
Vin de Set and PW Pizza, right, are popular destinations in an urban building — a former brewery. April 2012 photo
In the of Chouteau where the new QuikTrip is proposed you can see urban buildings on both sides of the street. When I was in real estate I represented the owner inn the purchase of the 3-story building on the left.
In the 26xx block of Chouteau, where the new QuikTrip is proposed, you can see urban buildings on both sides of the street. When I was in real estate I represented the owner inn the purchase of the 3-story building on the left. The QT would be to the East of the building on the right. May 2013 photo

The prevailing pattern on both Chouteau & Jefferson is urban — buildings built up to the property line. Sure, more holes exist now than 100 or even 50 years ago — but that’s no reason for the entire street to become the image of a suburban arterial. Even suburbs now are trying to urbanize their unsustainable development patterns.

Urban buildings in the 26xx block of Chouteau being razed, July 2011
Urban buildings in the 26xx block of Chouteau being razed, July 2011
The two buildings remaining to be razed aren't worthy of the National Register of Historic Places, but they do date from the late 19th century.
The two buildings remaining to be razed aren’t worthy of the National Register of Historic Places, but they do date from the late 19th century. April 2012

Chouteau is the southern boundary of my neighborhood of 7+ years: Downtown West. In April 2012 I wrote about a need to study Chouteau Ave, here are a couple of quotes from Chouteau Needs To Go On A Diet:

Chouteau Ave has four travel lanes plus generous parking lanes, it’s too wide. I couldn’t find the curb-to-curb width but the public right-of-way (PROW) is a massive 80 feet, encompassing the road and adjacent sidewalks.

Recent road diet projects on Grand and Manchester had the number of travel lanes reduced from four to two. I don’t think that’s necessary or even a good idea on Chouteau. It’s not lined with shops, although some do still exist in places. No need to make Chouteau into a low volume shopping street but there is no reason it’s can’t accommodate the current volume of vehicular traffic AND be less hostile to pedestrians.  This takes a corridor study.

Chouteau Ave extends east to the river and west until it becomes Manchester as it crosses Vandeventer, 3.4 miles long.  The far east end isn’t as wide and is located in what will become Chouteau’s Landing. A corridor study should focus on the 3 mile stretch from S. 4th on the east to Vandeventer Ave on the west.

And:

A corridor study of the 3 mile length of Chouteau Ave would identify key points where crosswalks are needed. Those not at intersections, like Mississippi Ave, would have a yellow caution light flashing overhead. In the 6/10th of mile between Truman Parkway and Jefferson Ave I’d suggest two pedestrian crossing points: Mississippi Ave and 22nd Street, this would equally space them 2/10th of a mile apart. Too far apart for a commercial district but adequate for this area.

My main focus was on improving pedestrian amenities, but a corridor study would also look at building form. From end to end urban buildings remain — the key to having the corridor be more urban 20-25 years from now is to retain existing urban buildings or replace them with new buildings that are at least as urban. At the time Kacie Starr Triplett had been reelected to a new term a year before. After Triplett resigned I suggested to the newly-electred Ald Christine Ingrassia that Chouteau needs to be studied — she said it wasn’t a priority.

Her priority, it appears, is playing the same games aldermen have played for decades: pretend to be pro-city while introducing anti-city legislation. When called on it crying “I thought we were friends…” You see, they want to be friends so you won’t publicly oppose their bad public policy. I encountered this a decade ago when Jennifer Florida supported a new McDonald’s on Grand (McDonald’s eventually gave up, a multi-story urban building now occupies the site). At that time I referred to guidelines in other cities pushing for more urban fast-food buildings. So I found it funny when Ald Ingrassia told me “As an aside I’m looking at introducing a bill requiring an urban design for gas stations in the city (similar to one in Ottawa – see attached info sheet).”

Ok, so you work for a year on a gas station opposed by many — that you yourself say “Needs a lot of work” — then after getting pushback to the legislation sent to the mayor for signature you ask for urban help and say you plan to require that future gas stations be urban — just not this one. Sorry, that’s not how a smart city does business. A smart city, like Ottawa, develops guidelines to ensure new construction contributes to the environment they seek.

Yes, she talked with residents immediately to the West & South — they wanted police for security and a ban on hard liquor sales. This is the type of feedback when you talk to neighbors, the bigger planning issues never come up or if they do the project is presented as basically a done deal — just help make it better.  Here, we’ll allow you to rearrange the Titanic’s deck chairs…

The proposed QuikTrip (see site plan) has no business being built anywhere in the City of St. Louis — especially not at Jefferson & Chouteau. If built, how long before it’s on QuikTrip’s list of surplus properties? Probably 20 years. They can quickly depreciate their real estate then try to do a sale leaseback to maximize profits on their $11 billion plus in annual revenues.

QuikTrip can afford to develop an urban prototype and we have no incentives to allow them to build the planned location. It’s not like we must drive out to the suburbs to purchase a hot dog, chips, soda, or fuel. They want to build here because they can generate a profit in the location. Fine — let them build & profit — but let’s also not reduce the urban form on Chouteau or Jefferson in the process.

In the last Sunday Poll nearly 70% of the readers wanted an urban form or outright rejection:

Q: QuikTrip wants to build a typical QT at Jefferson & Chouteau, St. Louis should:

  1. Allow it, but require an urban form w/building at the primary corner 23 [38.98%]
  2. Deny it completely 18 [30.51%]
  3. Let them build what they want 14 [23.73%]
  4. Allow it, but require a few minor changes 4 [6.78%]
  5. Unsure/No Opinion 0 [0%]

Can we please stop electing faux progressives?

— Steve Patterson

 

Currently there are "30 comments" on this Article:

  1. JZ71 says:

    Looking at Ottawa’s design guidelines, it would seem that the proposed QT actually meets many of them. If anything, the Ottawa guidelines require many suburban elements, like significant landscaping, that aren’t truly “urban”, and show suburban, not urban, setbacks. It also looks like part of the issue, here, is that the site is bordered on 3 sides by public streets, not 2 sides. If the site plan were flipped, with the building facing south, not north, and having the canopy and pumps along LaSalle, instead of Chouteau, would it be “better”? “Good enough?” Or, would doing so just create more negative impacts on properties to the south?

    It seems like the three big issues, outside the actual design specifics, that have you riled up, are a) the loss of the two existing, remaining, corner structures, b) the idea that a gas station mini-mart is actually being allowed to be constructed (pretty much anywhere in the city, or the region), and c) your highly-evolved, academic expertise is being ignored, again, in the real world! (And, yes, you’re living in a fantasy world when you make statements like “The proposed QuikTrip has no business being built anywhere in the City of St. Louis.” – there are many areas in the city where one would be both appropriate and welcomed!)

    I get it, you don’t want to see ANY (none, nada, zilch) more “old” “urban” buildings demolished, unless, of course, something more dense (and getting your stamp of approval) is IMMEDIATELY constructed to replace them. I find it interesting that you pull up another 1908 map, from more than a century ago, to “prove” that this was once a “dense, urban” area. The reality is that the site is already more than 80% vacant, and the only demolition that is required are these two structures, whose only real strong point is their location right at/on the corner, not their tenants nor their architectural details.

    We all want this: http://denverinfill.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/2015-02-07_18thCentral-perspective.jpg, not a QT, on this corner. We’ll only get this when there’s a market willing to pay the rents necessary to build something like this, rents in excess of $1600-$2000 a month! We no longer live in a world of streetcars and Model T’s, we live in a world of buses and Camry’s. Our architecture and urban design reflect those changes. Yes, gas station mini-marts are “suburban” and “ugly”, but they’re also where many urban (and suburban commuters) CHOOSE to spend their money and to pay local sales taxes. Sure, we can “just say no” and “force” these abominations to be built outside the city, but doing so will mean those tax dollars leave, as well.

    “Calling out” politicians will only go so far in getting any agenda in place or changed. Statements like “Can we please stop electing faux progressives?” and “Her priority, it appears, is playing the same games aldermen have played for decades: pretend to be pro-city while introducing anti-city legislation. When called on it crying ‘I thought we were friends…’ You see, they want to be friends so you won’t publicly oppose their bad public policy.” are actually insulting to the very people who have the power to steer the city in a more ‘urban’ direction.” Yeah, it’s frustrating how slowly change happens, in both government and in urban design. But to be truly effective, a more nuanced approach usually works better – figure out how to, sometimes, say yes, and don’t always just say no. Reward positive changes. And, at this point, I’m more interested in what happens with the old QT’s, on Kingshighway and Big Bend, than I am on “drawing a line in the sand”, here.

    http://denverinfill.com/blog/2015/02/new-lower-highland-project-18th-and-central-apartments.html

     
    • Ottawa’s design guidelines aren’t what I’d prefer. As I indicated, I have no problem with the existsnce of a QT on this corner — just not this QT prototype. Other retailers like Walmart, Target, Family Dollar, etc have developed prototypes for urban areas — recognizing their suburban prototypes aren’t a good fit.

       
      • JZ71 says:

        By definition, any gas station mini-mart is going to be 80%+ paved area, for pumps and parking. Siting any small structure on a large lot will be “anti-urban”, so I’m not sure how QT (or any other petroleum retailer), unlike a big box chain, is going to come up with a more “urban prototype”. Have you seen QT’s new location at Manchester and Big Bend, in Maplewood? It’s a similar, tight site, even though it’s in the “suburbs” . . . .

         
        • I know you’re not sure how — it requires creating thinking well beyond the conventional. See http://vault.sierraclub.org/sprawl/community/transformations/hercules.asp for examples.

           
          • JZ71 says:

            Yeah, those sure are some pretty pictures – it’s amazing what you can do with photoshop! But that example is just that, something that *could* happen if enough resources were thrown at it and the station operator / property owner saw a financial reason to rebuild what they already have – it’s not real! A “prototype” implies a plan that can be replicated, successfully, at many locations, and for customer safety and employee security reasons, a gas station is almost always oriented toward the major street, with the building set back, at the rear of the property – see “Guideline 40: Provide views and clear sightlines between
            the site, surrounding uses, and public streets to ensure
            sufficient safety and comfort levels”, from Ottawa!

            What you “want” is at complete odds with how this retail venue functions. The vast majority of customers are driving in, they’re not walking! The design favors the car because that is its primary “client”. Sure, people will be walking by (and they should be both “respected” and “accomodated” on the PROW), and some may actually choose to shop inside, but the vast majority of the customers WILL BE DRIVING! This may not fit your fantasy of pedestrians and mass transit, but it is how QT somehow manages to stay in business! And given the low intensity use of the existing structures, it’s no surprise that those tenants, QT, the alderman and many residents all agree that a new QT WOULD be a good thing!

             
          • Here’s a link to a photograph of an actual urban gas station in Milwaukee: http://milwaukeestreets.blogspot.com/2007/04/urban-gas-station.html

             
  2. jimbo says:

    Is the objection completely aesthetic then? Why would anyone think there ought to be an urban/suburban differentiation between gas stations? They necessitate large parking lots in a way that no one else does. The QT just north of Chouteau/Manchester on Vandeventer is certainly a popular destination. Certainly, more could be done for pedestrian access, but I’m not inclined to impose any hoity-toity design requirements on what are primarily functional objects designed to give efficient access to gasoline without creating fender benders and fist fights. I need a picture of an urban gas station to see if I agree here.

     
    • Aesthetics have nothing to do with the objection — it’s about function — the relationship between the public right-of-way (PROW) and adjacent private property. The proposed devalues the PROW experience.

       
  3. gmichaud says:

    In the end this is not about the Quick Trip or demolition of individual buildings. It is about a lack of leadership: political, business and the whole mess that pretends to run everything.

    The underlying problem is the lack of a proactive system of public discussion so that there would already be an idea what could be achieved instead of the usual reactive approach to everything that is used now.

    These type of classical city planning discussions about the Jefferson, Chouteau corner as the entry to Lafayette Square should be ongoing. The corner is also about the entry adjacent historic neighborhoods like Soulard and Benton Park, even extending to Cherokee Street and beyond, all of which should have a larger meaning to the city and the region. There are vistas, public spaces, street facades to consider. When entering this area what should be the experience? What is the relationship with the surrounding residential area? Can a seamless
    walking and biking experience be added to balance the auto experience?

    I love the example of the Milwaukee Gas Station. It illustrates perfectly capturing the corner
    with multiple stories and building location. The finest buildings in early St. Louis are the corner ones that speak to the citizen, to someone walking or passing by. Can QT achieve that while serving he auto? The failure to shape the urban environment in turns fails the adjacent neighborhoods. It is a failure to use urban planning as a tool for marketing, presentation, attractiveness and desirability.

    Building a typical QT would not complement or be any sort of transition or introduction to the surrounding neighborhoods. It would not be an addition that adds to St.Louis.

    Just as important is the question of public transit I mentioned previously. In cities with successful transit a street like the Chouteau/Manchester corridor would be a featured part of the texture of the city. The corridor becomes a marker for visitors and natives alike, running from the Arch on wharf street, connecting to metro stops and the main train station on 14th Street, there is a huge list of major destinations within a quarter to half mile along this corridor.In addition the road runs through a large West County commercial district into the country, eventually reaching Washington, Missouri (and beyond). (Hwy 100)

    One way to build successful transit systems is have highly visible routes that connect closely to many destinations, it is a way for users to orientate themselves and get to destinations quickly. As it stands right now the bus does not go directly between Chouteau, Manchester, Maplewood or hardly anywhere. Currently this corridor is treated as a secondary or worse route.

    These are the sort of considerations that should already be in play, and if they were it would open up Jefferson/Chouteau to become a public space that serves transit and the surrounding community. Whatever direction discussions and actions might lead is hard to know, but it is impossible to make improvements in the urban environment without any examination of the potentials.

    The only real leadership on these issues is Urban Review and a few others blogs in St Louis and elsewhere.
    To mindlessly build a Quick Trip without any thought encapsulates St. Louis City Planning Policy exquisitely.

     
    • JZ71 says:

      If there were truly leadership, there would be change. What we really have is a range of opinions, a lot of talk and no coherent strategy for changing how the city respects its past or moves forward in this century, so we end up with inertia. As for the transit part of the equation, it boils down to chicken or egg – transit basically sucks along the corridor because few people choose to use it, while few people use transit in this corridor because it basically sucks – for most people, it’s not seen as being a better choice than the SOV! Bottom line, there will be little change urban developments in the city until transit is embraced by more daily riders and more people choose to live and work in the city, increasing both urban densities and land values.

       
      • gmichaud says:

        Except there isn’t a range of opinions and just talk. Urban Review and a few other blogs have discussions, but certainly not in the mainstream media are alternatives ever discussed. There are cities around the world that handle this aspect of planning as a form of an ongoing dialogue. What would the City of London recommend in this instance? For one they would recognize the importance of Lafayette Square and adjacent neighborhoods.

        How do you create a desirable, marketable city? A city that creates demand through its success. In other words what does a successful city look like?

        Which gets to the second point. The Chouteau/Manchester corridor sucks not because people chose not to use it. But because it is poorly done. Just to go from 700 Chouteau to the Grove you need to do one transfer, going north to downtown and the 14th and Spruce station to make a change.

        Look at other routes along the Chouteau/Manchester corridor at the Metro site, they are as haywire or worse.

        https://tripplanner.metrostlouis.org/hiwire

        At trip planner, it is easy to see the the Chouteau/Manchester route meanders all over the place, forget about a straight shot down Chouteau to West County Center for instance.

        In successful cities the Chouteau/Manchester route would be featured and an important orientation tool for transit users. It is called marketing, creating demand, creating reasons for visiting and living in the city or along this route.

        Certainly it does not take much imagination to see the Chouteau/Manchester transit route should actually be one of the most important in the region, even extending as far as Washington and Hermann Missouri and wine country certain times of year.

        It is marketing of course, and creating demand through the design of the system. You have to make the transit system more valuable to users and potential users

        Right now transit is designed to fail, to be hard to use, whatever it takes to make it less desirable seems to be the norm.

        The Jefferson and Chouteau intersection could be an important part of a revived and revised transit plan. So the impact of successful transit is felt in many ways.

        The fact this mediocrity is allowed to continue without out any critical analysis indicates a seriously dysfunctional leadership structure.

        When it gets to the point all we can ever do is argue whether or not it is a good idea to tear down a couple of 19th century buildings for a gas station then the initial process of decision making is so flawed that the larger issues of city design are not considered.
        Its a serious problem, impacting the daily lives of real people.

         
    • dick says:

      Its amazing that your theory is right on but your facts are off. Civic Center, the grove and downtown Maplewood are served by the same bus, the 32 MLK, try looking at a bus map. Thanks!

       
      • gmichaud says:

        The point I am making is that the Chouteau/Manchester spine isn’t direct, Instead of going straight down the road and utilizing that visibility the way Grand Ave does there are transfers and meandering. In successful transit systems routes like Grand and Chouteau/Manchester are used as major connecting routes. A transit rider knows if they use one of these routes you have access to large parts of the city. In conjunction with this failure in creating and marketing quick, efficient routes there is a corollary failure that does not allow direct access to many adjacent destinations along these main routes, this aspect of transit planning is also weak.
        Try a few other locations, like getting to West County Mall or Schiller Camera and so on, you will see what I am talking about, it is not theory as you suggest, but fact. Sure it works in some places, but it is a fragmented travel itinerary, weakening the whole system. And in this case I’m talking about using the Grove as a starting part, if you use 700 Chouteau as the starting point the situation is much worse. If you want to do serious analysis you can’t just pick and choose your criteria to fit your preordained conclusions. Thanks!

         
        • dick says:

          The bus goes directly down Manchester/chouteau between civic center, grove, maplewood. Thats a fact, unlike your uninformed ramblings. Look at a bus map. No thanks

           
          • gmichaud says:

            First of all Civic Center is not on Chouteau or Manchester, second of all you are looking at a static map, I realized I may have queried the trip planner on the weekend, late at night and sure enough, it does not go directly down Chouteau or Manchester at that time, that lack of consistency throughout the day being another problem.
            But it really doesn’t matter, it is pretty clear you are not interested in a coherent discussion and did not look at any of the other examples I presented. So enjoy your map, the transit system is St. Louis does not work, but you can stare at your map. Good Luck with that. You can at least pretend transit in St. Louis works, that’s something I guess, but you’ll never be able to improve anything. Ignorance is bliss though, it is why St. Louis fails to advance in any way.

             
          • gmichaud says:

            JZ, I appreciate your help, but what I am saying relates to the Quicktrip site. If there was a robust Chouteau/Machester corridor it could influence the thinking about the Jefferson/Chouteau intersection.
            I just saw something about I think it was St. Charles was creating a “Gateway” for its downtown. That is the kind of classical planning that is lacking in this situation. Lafayette Square will especially suffer from this oversight by city officials.

            I guess you have not looked at the trip planner either, the maps only tell part of the story. I have already explained this, but lets look at demand. You say transit is failing because of demand. Yet you take the Hanley Metro Link Station with parking for 2000 cars, it indicates clearly a demand for transit, except the users cannot take transit from their homes. It is a failure in transit route planning and/or a failure of city planning. (this sort of huge parking lot is unheard of in cities with successful transit precisely because people can take transit from their homes)
            To sell a product, you need a good one. It is highly questionable there is a good one in the case of St. Louis transit.
            No doubt there are many people who would prefer the auto, as you say, but as the Hanley Rd parking lot indicates, there is also pent up demand that is not being meet because of poor urban and transit design.
            It is impossible to generate demand with an inferior product. Would you buy a defective product?, hence the problem of Metro and the bus lines.
            I actually have far more radical ideas for achieving a successful St. Louis Transit system. But it seems even mild discussions are too faint of heart for St. Louis.
            But yes your maps have nothing to do with reality, as I told the other gentlemen. You don’t want to discuss the success of St. Louis and what that path might be. Rather you continually support the status quo and its myriad failures. The shortcomings should be obvious to everyone, especially design professionals.

             
          • dick says:

            the map, which shows you where the bus goes, doesnt matter. You may want to get that checked out (your brain).

             
          • JZ71 says:

            First, what they’re doing in St. Chuck isn’t being done for pedestrians or transit, it’s being done for cars and aesthetics – adding another traffic lane and burying power lines, along with wider sidewalks and a few decorative benches and a big sign with the city name, is way more suburban than urban – it’s in the details: http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/stcharles/st-charles-to-widen-beautify-fifth-street-gateway/article_515297b9-0299-534a-9f2c-c46f0ce87904.html

            Second, the Hanley Road park-n-ride could be a good thing, but it’s a symbol of what plagues the larger system – public transit, here, rarely is a better alternative IF you have access to your own vehicle – there really are no good reasons to switch! Is transit quicker? More convenient? Is parking expensive/hard to find, at your destination? How is it a better product?!

            As long as most destinations in the region have relatively convenient, relatively cheap (especially “free”) parking, and as long as every trip on transit costs more than metered, on-street parking, there really is no incentive to give up the convenience and flexibility of driving. I have a 7 mile commute, I have “free” parking on both ends, and it takes 15-20 minutes to make the drive. IF I wanted to use Metro, and IF it matched better with some of my crazy work schedules, it would take at least an hour, each way, assuming no missed connections and my being willing to hang around on street corners to transfer between buses.

            Yeah, I could save a couple of dollars every day, and I “could read on the bus”, instead of paying attention to driving. Or, I can can spend another hour and a half, at home, every day, in the comfort of my own recliner, doing the exact same thing! I don’t need to worry about missed connections and I don’t need to worry about correct change or invest in a monthly pass that I can’t use enough to justify its cost.

            But you’re right, transit, here, could improved, substantially. Other routes could be more direct, fares could be cheaper, transfers could be better timed, service could be more frequent, even frequent enough that you wouldn’t need (to worry about) a schedule. Attitudes and perceptions could change and evolve, to where riding the bus is not equated with poverty, job loss and/or multiple DUI’s: http://www.citylab.com/commute/2015/02/the-myth-that-everyone-naturally-prefers-trains-to-buses/385759/ . And end-of-line, suburban park-n-rides are not a bad thing, since they provide and answer to that last mile dilemma in low-density suburban areas, but to be successful, they need to offer robust service, and not just at peak commuting times.

            But I am confused by your statement that Metro’s “maps have nothing to do with reality”. They’re a graphical representation of where transit currently run. They’re “reality”, they’re at the core of any plan and any planning process. The real challenge, here, is that much of St. Louis was not built on a grid, so many major streets and roads radiate out of an increasingly irrelevent downtown. Suburb-to-suburb travel is both the present and the future, and until our transit better serves that market, it will become increasingly irrelevent, as well. Compare our transit system map to the ones in Chicago or LA – http://media.metro.net/riding_metro/maps/images/system_map.pdf . a grid offers far more connections than a hub-and-spoke model does!

             
          • dick says:

            Those are static maps, they dont mean anything /s

             
          • dick says:

            I dont stateret the map, I get around st louis 100% on metro and and foot. I dont look at a static map. I ride the system. The 32 runs up and down this route all day, every day consistently. The system could work better, but it certainly works. I know where civic center is, I change buses and get on metro link regularly), its just over the train tracks from your prescious route. YOU brought up Civic Center and said it should be conected by consistent serive to chouteou manchester, which is exactly what it is. Stay in your (mom’s?) basement in the County, google bus routes late at night, and telling us how bad the system is. I know the actual routes, from physical exexperience, and I’ll continue to use them to easily get around the CITY (not the County, dont care).

             
          • JZ71 says:

            And that type of attitude (“county – don’t care”) is precisely why public transit is such a big challenge – the taxpayers in the county subsidize the transit that you enjoy in the city. If you don’t give them a reason to continue doing so (better suburb-to-suburb service), guess what? Transit in the city won’t get better, it won’t even just stay the same, it’ll get worse!

             
          • dick says:

            No, servicing an area that doesnt have the population density or walkability (stl county) to make transit a plausible alternative is the problem. Bringing transit to people who don’t want it, wont use it and built their environment for cars is the problem. We need more service, not in the county, but in the city, where people want it, will use it, and are already using it.

             
          • JZ71 says:

            Then how do you expect to pay for it? Transit is funded primarily by sales taxes. The majority of the sales taxes are generated outside the city, in the county. If there is no service, either traditional fixed route service or non-traditional, demand-responsive service, provided, why would/should county residents dedicate tax revenues to a service that they “don’t want and won’t use”?

            Public transit ain’t free. It takes tax dollars to buy and maintain the vehicles and to pay the operators their wages and benefits (because the fares riders pay cover less than 20% of the total cost of operating the system). If the city had to cover the full subsidy of providing transit in the city, there would either be half as much service or even higher local taxes – be careful of what you ask for . . . .

             
          • dick says:

            Right now the city has much better service than the county even though the county pays in more. I like that system, keep it going, I just want even more of it.

             
  4. Frank says:

    First, Steve, it is good to read your comments and those of all the other contributors. An airing of diverse opinions is always healthy.
    That said, it seems like some of the argument from your end on this topic is becoming personal. To me, it appears the alderman did what she should have done, talking to constitutents and taking their needs and opinions into consideration. This is what we (or at least I) expect from our elected officials. Would I rather have an alderman ask my opinion and base votes on that polling, as opposed to casting votes? (“Constituents be damned. I know what’s best.”)
    You and I may not agree, Steve, but that doesn’t mean either of us is wrong.

     
    • JZ71 says:

      And that’s the difference between self-appointed “experts” and elected representatives. The politician is directly responsible to their constituents – if they don’t listen, and respond, positively, to their constituents’ concerns, they can be, and often are, replaced. The “expert”, in contrast, “knows”, precisely, what the constituents “need” and should be given, even if they don’t live in the neighborhood, and won’t be satisfied until their own, unique, vision becomes reality! The real challenge, in the city, is actually the large number of tiny wards – most aldermen have a very narrow focus – their own ward – and really don’t care about input from most outsiders (unless it comes with a check attached), so there is a fair amount of inconsistency when it comes down to priorities, since the access to and use of “experts” is also highly variable.

       
      • As imndicsated, my neighborhood is diagonal across the intersection — nobody in our neighborhood was contacted.

         
        • JZ71 says:

          And that would be an interesting definition of “neighborhood” – where you live and work is physically separated from this site by a) Market Street, b) I-64, and c) the railroad switching yard! Maybe UPS, Metrolink Maintenance and the Union Training Center should have been contacted for their thoughts (and maybe they were!).

           
    • Taking to those in close proximity is important but so is the big picture. She’s the one who made it personal.

       

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