I attended the City Council meeting last night and I am truly disappointed by the outcome of last night’s vote by the City Council regarding the Lexington Club PUD and TIF. I am deeply saddened that with all of the valid concerns and issues that have been addressed by residents and aldermen both, council members who talk about communication and negotiation did not feel that this proposal warranted further discussion before bringing it to Council for final vote. After the vote of denial of the TIF at the December Planning and Development meeting, the best approach would have been to bring the plan back to the Committee and start an open discussion about how to improve the plan and see if a compromise could be made between the Committee, developer and residents. Unfortunately now the residents must deal with a development that does not fit within their neighborhood, will cause traffic issues for that neighborhood, add more children to the already overcrowded schools and the City has given a TIF to a residential project that is not the best it can be. Some claim that there are no risks with this TIF, that is not true, there are risks with all TIFs. Sometimes the risk is worth it, if the plan is very beneficial, but with this decision tonight that cannot be said. We have missed a golden opportunity to work together to make this plan better.
Further more, as I stated publically at the December Planning and Development Committee meeting, the lack of respect and appreciation for the residents’ comments and concerns is disgraceful. The City’s Administration, some elected officials and even a mayoral candidate has been sending out a message. That message which is totally unfounded and untrue, is that the residents who have been vocal against recent residential development proposals in our city, including Towne Centre, Corporate Reserves, and Lexington Homes in particular, are small in number, are against any type of development on the property and according to some, don’t know what they are talking about. These are the very same people who then try to pressure other elected officials to vote in favor of these projects and have even recently made public statements in the media basically stating that those resident’s views, efforts and concerns should be dismissed. To add to this, last night, those people who voted in favor of the project would not even look at the people while making their vote. They instead looked down at their desks like they knew they were wrong for their decision. I find all of this very disrespectful to those many residents have taken the time to write letters, speak to the aldermen, made an effort to get educated on the topics and issues, speak out and attend meeting after meeting over the last 4 years. I myself am one of them. Tonight’s vote just goes to prove just how strongly many of our City Officials believe in this message and have a lack of respect for their bosses aka the residents.
The residents have been reasonable, they never said don’t build. They have asked to have built something that fits within their neighborhood. Something that will enhance it. They have offered viable solutions, yet those suggestions were just brushed off and again tonight’s vote shows that dismissal. If the Council was concerned over the frustration of the developer, just think of how the residents feel and then to be treated with so much disrespect is deployable. Someone told me this weekend that “it doesn’t pay to fight it because the City will do what they want to do” Tonight’s vote proves that person right and that is a sad fact for our community. I have worked hard as resident and leader of the Near West Neighborhood Association along with others, to prove that is not always the case but unfortunately with votes like this, it reminds me that there are still far too many who disregard the residents’ concerns, even when the City’s own survey backs up overwhelmingly those residents who have taken the time to speak up. As a candidate for 5th Ward Alderman I promise I will work to make sure there is a more open, transparent and respectful approach with our local government.
Kim Malay, Resident, President of Near West Neighborhood
Assoc. and 5th Ward Alderman Candidate