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So this morning, I recounted the first half of Saturday’s meeting about the 25-acre McMillan site. The second half was a bit more chaotic.
After the developers shared their plans, residents were invited to step up to the microphone and ask questions about the proposal. Many were not so down with that format. They just wanted to share. One neighborhood woman Robin Buck, who held a residents-only meeting at her house earlier that week, used her moment before the crowd to ask people to sign up for alternative meetings—-No developers allowed.
A few topics and concerns arose several times. Many Bloomingdale residents complained about traffic from the medical center already clogging up First Street and Channing Street (which runs parallel to the site’s southern border).
“Is there a needs assessment study? Is there an environmental impact study? There are a lot of studies that need to be done!” a resident demanded at one point. The city’s project manager Clint Jackson said that the necessary studies would be eventually posted on a website launching mid-week about McMillan’s development.
Others complained that there wasn’t enough green space, and that the entire plan should be scrapped.”Have we looked at a national contest where our neighborhood could be the site of some kind of new park, like the High Line (in New York City) or the Seattle Gas Works for example? Or something with solar or wind power?”
One woman approached the mic with some pointed questions about money, and whether the partners had enough of it “in the bank,” as she put it. An EYA representative said the development would cost between $300 and $400 $500 million dollars. And no, all that capital was not already tucked away (and when is it ever?).
Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. delivered an impassioned speech midway through the meeting that revved up the audience, but generally seemed to support the developers’ line of thought: That the plan, in some form, had to be carried through:
“I will ask any responsible civic association leader to be truthful in the information you provide to residents. This is not a closed process. This has been an open process. At the end of the day, this community deserves certain things, and I think that we are well within our reach to get it…This is an idea that we can either choose to fertilize and grow or we can put it on the shelf and not have a solution in the long term, and sit here 25 years from now, with my family and my kids, and say ‘Guess what? We had a great idea! Guess what? It was in the budget for you to have a library, a rec center, and all the things that don’t exist within this forgotten quarter.”
Images provided by Robin Buck