The debate over the Champion Centre (the Northwestern Ave. "Family Inn" property rezoned from GB and R1 to PD) highlighted one of the recurring tensions that are a part of our common life in West Lafayette.
There is “town”/”gown” (with “town” in the ascendance in the last political cycle), “school”/”city” (a debate just ahead), and, in this case, the contrast between “urban”/”suburban” West Lafayette.
If you live in districts 1, 2, or 3, you live in a city (when the proximate Purdue residences are included) of 25,000 people. This is a population density impressive for Indiana and significant even by most national measures. Few of us in District #2 could rise to defend our “country views”, as happened at the Champion Centre discussion.
The political problem is this: the weight of this population commands the attention and resources of the City, but this same population cares little about what goes on in city government. It will never vote. It is eager to move on.
As traffic patterns evolve and both building and population density increase, urban development will impact the city in such a way as to make the decision as to whether to put a new fire station in a cornfield or in a soybean field seem insignificant. There will be more decisions to be made like the Champion Centre rezoning.
With the Champion Centre debate we welcome District# 4 to urban West Lafayette and to that complex of issues that belong to urban life.