Heartened by Monday's display

To the editor:

I attended Monday's town council meeting � devoted largely to consideration of the proposed extension of Crawford Road down the bluff � not because I have any direct stake in the matter (although building a de-facto truck route straight through one of Vermillion's finest natural assets and most desirable neighborhoods as a favor to one housing developer would clearly have been a blunder). I was there primarily to get a sense of the community I've recently joined.

I grew up in a small college town located half-way between Boston and Providence, and though my father commuted in both directions, the town had not yet become a suburb. Several neighbors and friends, including my mother, founded and committed themselves to community-based organizations devoted to the acquisition and preservation of public land, and always seemed to be busy with on project or another. I never gave it much thought � that was just what our moms did. Those carefully chosen green spaces have now emerged as islands(or oases) amidst the pervasive suburban sprawl; they have become part of what makes the town a place where people want to settle � as evidenced by the property values.

A drive through those towns that all seemed so similar 35 years ago demonstrates that the communities able to develop the self-respect necessary to take their destinies into their own hands are now distinct from those willing to settle for the default alternative � short-sighted development driven simply by market forces.

I was heartened by Monday's display of collective mental health. We could impress our children someday with the shared values expressed in the decisions we're making now.

John Erikson


Elite opinion

To the editor:

I am compelled to write in defense of the city council. In your last editorial you impugn the integrity of the council members, implying that they caved in to the �negative feedback� from the �well orchestrated efforts� of the �elite few.� Would they have been praiseworthy had they decided otherwise, in line with your views?

The Crawford Road extension is an issue that has lingered well over 20 years. Now, the rationale to finish the road is because all the �pieces� are already in place and the target date of 2004 has come and gone.

Realize that area homeowners have objected all the way through the grueling years. Our objections were brushed aside, by more important issues in the agenda, by another commission study, by nuances of required process or timing, etc. In the interim, with no action by the previous city councils, the staff proceeded to lay down the groundwork according to their STIP plan. Our current city council, after inviting testimony from the public and weighing citizen concerns, exercised leadership in finally �calling the question.�

The Friends of Crawford Woods mustered friends and neighbors to plead our cause to our elected leaders. This is democracy in action. Having done so, you refer to us as the �elite few.� If elite means middle class American taxpayers, thank you! If elite means a bunch of snobs on the bluff, then we take umbrage at the insult. You are referring to 271 citizens who have signed a petition against Crawford Road extension; against the annihilation of Crawford Woods, against the degradation of our neighborhood. (Any road built through the Woods is de facto an arterial highway � with a 60 foot wide road beckoning at the top of the bluffs, no stoplights, no stop signs, no cross traffic.) Admittedly, a lot of the signatories are from the SE ward, but they include all wards in Vermillion.

You are not satisfied with reporting an event. With your editorial, you are also instigating, rallying and manipulating public opinion to fit your views. You have an enviable lofty perch as the only newspaper in town, on a platform paid for by your readers and subscribers. You are truly the one elite in this town.

Virginia P. Johnson

Friends of Crawford Woods


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