Sunday, March 20, 2011

Three Days - Thirty Years

This week three public meetings will offer an opportunity to focus on the shape of West Lafayette over the next thirty years.

First, West Lafayette's "Go Greener Commission" will host a panel discussion, entitled "Urban Planning and Sustainable Growth," on Tuesday, March 22nd, at 7:00 pm at the West Lafayette City Hall. "Smart growth" values sustainable development over short-term gain. Its goals are to achieve a unique sense of community and place. It hopes to expand the range of transportation and housing choices. It seeks to equitably distribute the costs and benefits of development. It hopes to preserve and to enhance natural and cultural resources. Does West Lafayette have the imagination and the courage to be a "smart growth" city?

Then, West Lafayette city officials and council members will hold a public hearing regarding a proposed historic preservation ordinance on March 23rd at 6:00pm at City Hall. The City of Lafayette and the eleven other "Big Ten" cities all have some form of this ordinance in place to protect homeowner investment and to stabilize near campus neighborhoods. Will West Lafayette pass meaningful historic preservation legislation? Will it respond to the challenges of the APC's Housing Element Update? Can it address the perplexing 2010 census data? Or will it continue to drift down the path to "apartmentization" ?

Finally, there will be a New Chauncey Neighborhood Association meeting to discuss Purdue/New Chauncey Development Plans to be held Thursday March 24th. at 7:00pm at the Morton Community Center. Community issues discussions with Purdue usually focus on door hangers and alcohol consumption. Could those discussions be raised to include a meaningful conversation about the impact of the construction of a four story academic/commercial building and the demolition of blocks of historic, single family homes on our near campus neighborhood? Could the replacement of single family homes off set the displacement of families from near campus neighborhoods?

Thirty years ago, you could look south from State Street and see a mixed community of homes, apartments, and businesses.


"When did the bomb go off", asked the city's strategic planning consultant while looking at an aerial map of the land south of Purdue. What will people say about our development strategy when they reflect on a city map
thirty years from now ? The success or failure of these conversations will provide that answer.

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