Say hello to 1965?

Say hello to 1965?
You could say that time finally caught up with the people who live in one of the most prominent neighborhoods in Vermillion.

That usually is a bad omen. Time is undiscriminating; it doesn't take sides.

But the Vermillion City Council demonstrated Monday that it has the ability to control time. In a weird sort of Marty McFly, Back to the Future method (minus the DeLorean and its flux capacitor) aldermen were able to take Vermillion back to 1965.


The city council faced an audience of over 60 people Monday, who braved near-blizzard like conditions to either listen or testify against further development of Crawford Road.

These citizens had good reason to want time to stand still; a great number of them had, for decades, enjoyed a tranquil existence on the street.

Crawford Road first showed up in city records back in the mid-1960s, when Vermillion adopted a comprehensive transportation plan with a major street design.

The street extension wasn't built in the 1960s because, at the time, it wasn't located in the city limits. Nothing could be done when Crawford was a "country" road, because urban systems money couldn't be used to develop a street outside of Vermillion's borders. It just hung in limbo, constantly appearing on the city's major street plans.

At that time, apartments were being developed below the bluff near Burbank Road, and city leaders perhaps thought it would be a good idea to someday allow those apartment dwellers access to the city over the bluff on Crawford Road.

Making Crawford Vermillion's next arterial route made perfect sense to city planners at that time, when one considers the location of Dakota and University streets.

But in the course of 40 years something happened. Vermillion grew. Crawford Road, originally platted in a vacant field, today is in the city limits. If extended, it would, as we mentioned earlier, route traffic through one of the more well-established neighborhoods in the city.

Before Monday's city council meeting it appeared that the time to complete Crawford Road is now. That, however, all changed when over 60 people who would be disturbed by the plan came to the meeting.

Those people testified against the extension of Crawford, even though the Vermillion Planning Commission, after gathering input and studying the issue, recommended that the road be extended but not included as a truck route.

Aldermen said their decision was based largely on the negative feedback received Monday night.

It's a safe assumption that we all agree that the best route for Vermillion's future is one that redefines prosperity, quality of life, community character and the environment alongside economic considerations.

To reach that goal, however, Vermillion must strive to seek true development, in the sense of getting better instead of merely getting bigger.

It must also pursue a more democratic approach to decision-making, representing community-wide interests over those of an elite few.

Yes, admittedly, there are drawbacks to expanding Crawford Road.

A transportation study utilized by the Vermillion Planning Commission lists 11 "disbenefits" to developing the road.

However, it also lists 11 benefits. They were virtually ignored at Monday's meeting.

We know of at least one person in attendance Monday who is in favor of extending Crawford Road. For several years now, Dave Hertz has worked to build a housing development on the southwest edge of The Bluffs golf course along Burbank Road.

He was steamrolled at the city council meeting, however, by a well-orchestrated public relations campaign launched by those who oppose lengthening Crawford.

We hope the aldermen will remember that conducting the city's business isn't a popularity contest. Sometimes decisions must be made that are unpopular and controversial.

And, quite frankly, we'd like to see more attention paid to consensus building. It's doubtful that there is only one person in Vermillion in favor of extending Crawford. We know that's a fact: the city planning commission made that recommendation.

Citizens against Crawford Road were mailing postcards to each other, urging attendance at Monday's meeting. Perhaps the council should give those who favor the Crawford extension a chance to similarly dominate a hearing.

There's one last chance. The city will be holding a hearing at 7 p.m. April 3 to consider removing the Crawford Road extension from the Vermillion Comprehensive Plan.

It's one last chance for the road's supporters to speak up. Or do nothing and say hello to 1965.

The Vermillion Plain Talk editorials reflect the opinion of Plain Talk editor David Lias. You may contact him at david.lias@plaintalk.net

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