Not In My Backyard. That was the message the Hubbard Parks Improvement Committee had for the Hubbard City Council last week.
Concerns over increased crime, declining property values and loss of green space on a portion of the Wolfer-Will Greenway, while important, should not outweigh access to the Marion E. Carl Veterans Memorial.
We know neighbors like open space in their backyards. We all do. But, when the NIMBY crowd takes charge of a parks committee, we expect their protection of the community interest to rise above that of self-interest.
That is why we were disappointed to hear HPIC President Jonnie Wachter bring up issues such as potential loss of property values, preservation of green space and increased crime as reasons for stopping the memorial parking lot. We dont want to have to look at a parking lot in our backyard, she said.
Problem is, the greenway is not in Wachter or any residents backyard. It is city-owned park land and the approved site of a veterans memorial.
We are talking about giving access to the park for those veterans it is intended to honor, many who are in wheelchairs and otherwise infirmed.
A parks committee banded together to stop access to one of those parks to protect its real estate values.
Maybe this group should be renamed the Hubbard Real Estate Investment Committee.
This is not officially a greenway, either. While it may be called that, there has been no state designation calling it such. This is just a nice name for a 1.39-acre strip that was donated to the city in 1996 by the Wolfer-Will farming families.
The land was deeded to become a public park and that is what it has been and will be.
Finally, crime. How would building a parking lot lead to increases in crime? As long as it brought undesirables into the neighborhood, they were against it.
We think the parking lot can be nicely done and there are ways to prevent drifters and criminals from camping out. We should be thinking of solutions, not the narrow interests of a few property owners.
More important questions include how some wheelchair-bound veterans are supposed to access the memorial from a gravel parking area. These are questions we have for the Hubbard Parks Improvement Committee. While it is their individual right to object to the parking lot, they should not hold back an already approved decision.
We thought this committee was supposed to look for ways to improve the parks, not keep them inaccessible. We are looking for solutions, not road blocks.
Is this what we have become? So afraid of making a public space accessible to the wrong people that we are afraid to do the right thing for those who served us? We say, not in our backyard.