Crawford Woods or Crawford Road?

To the editor:

The bluffs are one of Vermillion's greatest assets. Our golf course is named The Bluffs. Wouldn't it be a tragedy to destroy the only remaining public access to the bluffs' trees, ravines, birds, and nature area? Now a developer wants the city to destroy the Crawford Woods in order to put another unnecessary and expensive road down the bluff?

Some voters believe that a "promise" was made to the developer. The developer has yet to name any city worker who made him this alleged "promise." Even if a verbal promise was made, no city worker has the authority to make a $1.5 million "promise" that binds taxpayers.

For example, I received many promises when the city built a golf course around us, and many are still unfulfilled. But I knew that none were binding on my fellow taxpayers unless I put in the effort to get the alleged promises in a written contract and approved by the decision makers who the taxpayers elected to make these decisions. I did not put in the effort, and neither did this developer. Therefore, neither he nor I can claim these verbal promises are binding, especially if the so-called promise costs the taxpayers 1.5 million dollars. If I know this as an ordinary citizen, he ought to know it as an experienced developer.

On the other hand, if any person can claim that a verbal promise is binding on the city, then I and many others will be knocking on the city hall doors to get our "promises" fulfilled too. Lots of arguments and abuse can occur if we start allowing verbal encouragements to be binding on our city government.

Please vote No to their Municipal Initiated Measure A (costing us $1.5 million) and Yes to Municipal Initiated Measure B (costing only $50,000) that will preserve Crawford Woods and create a wonderful walking path.

Dean Spader

Yes on A, no on B

To the editor:

Crawford Road, the Street, or Woods Path and Nature Preserve, what shall it be? We still might not know after the Nov. 7 election. I did not see any recommendations in the Comprehensive Plan of the City of Vermillion since 1965 for a park or nature preserve in this part of the city.

Gertrude Dahl, a well known and respected business woman and civic leader, owned property on each side of East Main Street, and wished to donate before she died, a small wooded area on the west side of Mickelson Street between Main Street and Lewis Street. The city council rejected her offer, which was also not in any Comprehensive Plan, saying they didn't want any small areas to police and maintain.

It is easier to police and maintain an area fronting on a street rather than from a trail not visible from a patrol car or by a private citizen driving along the street.

Is the donation of a small wooded area south of Crestview Drive a sincere need? Or is it another attempt to block the much-needed completion of the link of Crawford Road above the bluff to Crawford Road below the bluff? The city attorney, in his explanation on the Nov. 7 ballot, did not state that the creation of a nature preserve would prevent the present city council and any future city councils from completing the link of the two sections of Crawford Road.

Let's look at some of the facts. The length of Crawford Road from Crestview Drive to Burbank Road is 1,500 feet, of which developers (Fredrick Duerr, Lawrence Thorsheim and Robert Pliley) donated the right-of-way, curb and gutter and gravel street on both sides of the south 456 feet (30 percent) thereof. The width of the proposed link is 30 feet from face of curb to face of curb. The above developers also donated most of the right-of-way on the east side of the next 881 feet.

Marjorie Tapken donated the right-of-way for both sides of the remaining north 163 feet. The required right-of-way for the west side of the center 881-foot section is 0.96 acres, or 31 percent of the total, which ranges from 0.02 acres from Lot 21A to 0.24 acres from Lot 24A, and 0.35 acres from Lot B-H.

None of these five lots are developed. The four "A" lots were given to the owners of the abutting lots that front on Valley View Drive, which places Crawford Road from 406 feet to 670 feet from Valley view Drive.

How close is the next street behind your house? You can refer to a city map. Three of the "A" lots could be developed and Lot B-H would still be large enough for two homes. When the street construction was first proposed in 1978, the owners of these lots told the city council they did not wish to develop these lots, so the city council said the street improvements would not be assessed to the fronting of the property.

What happens to the right-of-way donated for street construction if the street construction is blocked? The above developers donated 2.09 acres (69 percent) of land for street construction. Would they have developed six more lots (three lots per acre)?

Crawford Road was on the first Comprehensive Plan in 1965 and was listed on each amendment to the plan until the spring of 2006. What has changed in the last 41 years? Has there been population growth? Has the area of the city expanded? Has the southeast are of the city grown more than the rest of the city? Has the rural population southeast of the city grown more than the rest of the county?

We all know the answers to these questions are yes. Will the city continue to grow to the southeast? Do we want traffic from this new section of the city and this rural area to drive by Jolley School? Vote yes on Initiated Measure A and no on Initiated Measure B and let the city council decide if a path and nature preserve is needed.

The right-of-way would be wide enough for both. The 30-foot street would follow the existing storm sewer and sanitary sewer up the ravine, so very few mature trees would have to be removed. The remaining right-of-way should be left natural and all the citizens could enjoy a wooded drive.

Joseph W. Gillen, PE & LS
City engineer

Support nature
preserve, path

To the editor:

The developer's initiative petition would force the city to condemn land and spend around $1.5 million to bulldoze Crawford Road through a quarter mile of wooded ravine, a large green space right in town. It's a bad idea. It's an idea left over from the 1960s, that for 45 years has never had enough support to be built. The city studied the issue to death over several years and voted twice this spring to kill the project.

It would route arterial traffic through residential streets and even harm the quiet, country setting often mentioned in advertising for the Countryside Addition below the bluff. Even if traffic diverted through the new road made a convenience store/gas station practical on the commercial lots in Countryside, it isn't worth it.

Do the low cost path and nature preserve alternative and spend the highway funds where they will do more good and less harm.

Doug & Mona Bye

Poor taste

To the editor:

I was at the Dakota Days Parade this weekend, and I had a great time. This year was pretty good; the bands were great. There were floats from student organizations, political candidates and representatives, and groups like the 4-H. I was in the Vermillion Middle School (VMS) Band, and when we finished the route, I joined my family to watch the rest of the parade from the corners of Main and Plum.

I had one problem with the parade – and it wasn't the trash like past years; it was a student organization. Do you know who I'm talking about yet? It was the Black Student Union. At first I thought it was the 'Rappers-Who-Cuss-Too-Much Union!'

Why did they have to play music that totally misrepresents their race? I heard plenty of words in that song (in the short time that their SUV passed on the corner) that were not appropriate for the kids who made up about two-thirds of the crowd. Nor was it appropriate or helpful to represent their race in Vermillion. What was the point of their loud music? Was it to help people understand why they deserve our respect? Black Student Unions should be talking about racism, not rapping about…whatever they were: in poor taste.

Next year, if the Black Student Union has a good message, let them participate in the parade; however, they should be banned if they can't represent themselves in a positive way. If they do improve, then kids will start to think of them as more than just rappers who like to cuss, but as people who can do much more

Luke Skilbred (age 14)

Vote no on Amendment E

To the editor:

On Election Day, you will be faced with the decision to vote yes or no for Amendment E. On the surface, it appears that Amendment E is an effort to hold public officials accountable for their actions. However, a yes vote for Amendment E is much more than an accountability measure.

Under Amendment E, those who generously give of their time and expertise to serve on various government boards, school board members, city council or commissioners, county commissioners, parole board members, water board members, zoning board members, police officers, sheriff deputies, judges or prosecutors and other members of other boards not mentioned here would be vulnerable to law suits and held personally and financially responsible to defend against these suits.

Simply put, if Amendment E passes and you serve on a board, you could be sued and would have to pay for your dense out of your own pocket. Few will be willing to take that chance and will no longer offer to serve.

Our current system works very well with its checks and balances. We don't need to have radical groups outside South Dakota tell us how to run our local boards and commissions. Personally, I feel it is the government's responsibility to protect its people and not a special grand jury with its few select members.

Ladies and gentlemen in our fine state of South Dakota, send a strong message on election day. We don't need Amendment E � vote no.

The Clay County Commission:
Les Kephant,
Leo Powell,
Gerald Sommervold, Rulph H. Westergaard and Mary E. Jensen,

Firefighters deserve our thanks

To the Editor:

With the end of fire season finally approaching, I want to take this opportunity to thank the fire departments across South Dakota for keeping our state safe throughout this year's extremely active fire season.

As you know, hundreds of fires, large and small, popped up across the state all summer long. Our firefighters logged long hours and battled wildfires in harsh conditions to keep us and our property safe.

Please join me in thanking the firefighters for a job well done. Many of them are volunteers who took time away from their families, their jobs and their lives to keep South Dakota safe. For all their hard work, they only receive the satisfaction of the job and the thanks we provide.

We also need to recognize and thank the employers of our volunteer firefighters who allow their employees to leave the job site and respond to the fire page or siren. Without our employers' selfless sense of pride in their community and state, we would not have the professional volunteer fire departments we have across this state. Our thanks and gratitude go out to the business community of South Dakota!

Although the fire season is slowing down, we are not completely out of the woods. Please continue to act responsibly. Don't throw lit cigarettes or other burning material on the ground and abide by the burn bans your communities and counties may have in place. Together, we can keep South Dakota safe and give South Dakota firefighters a much needed break.

M. Michael Rounds
Governor of South Dakota

We must decide

To the editor:

I believe living today as a Christian we must decide whether we are true followers of Christ or just clinging to the title. If we are true followers when we face a worldly issue such as the abortion of the unborn we should ask ourselves WWJD (What Would Jesus Do).

The worldly point of view tells you to leave your personal beliefs and convictions out of society and certainly government issues. I believe that if you are truly a humble follower of Christ you would turn to God for wisdom, not the world. Remember even the devil knows who Christ is but chooses not to follow.

In the Bible 1st John 4: 4-6 says (Little children, you are of God, and have overcome them; for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world, and the world listens to them. We are of God, whoever knows God listens to us, and he who is not of God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error). To summarize, you have the ability to discern yourself from the worldly viewpoint because you follow Christ. This allows you to ask with a humble heart "Jesus what would you have me do in your name."

The world says that the unborn are not people with any rights. Jeremiah 1:5 says, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." Does this passage mean God views life from conception, or even before? He told Jeremiah that he did, and that he had a full plan for his life before he was born.

If you believe what God said to Jeremiah then don't you think God has cried out 50,000,000 times in pain over the aborted babies in America? The world will tell you a small state like South Dakota has no right taking on such a huge issue in our country. Have you ever heard of David and Goliath? Who stood with David? God often uses the unlikely to demonstrate his power and will.

If we as Christians sit passively by this fall and don't vote, who really wins? Whom before the throne will answer and be responsible for the blood of the aborted unborn babies?

Mike Lovejoy

Citizens in support of Crawford Road

To the editor:

On Tuesday Nov. 7, we will be electing officials in state and local government and deciding on 13 referred items of importance to us. Among them is the question about Crawford Road. Our decision will affect the orderly and long-planned growth of this city.

The Vermillion City Council has rejected a measure that would have implemented an important phase necessary for the planned growth of the community. The extension of Crawford Road had the approval of the planning commission and the city council for over 30 years.

The rejection of the plans for Crawford has raised more questions than it has answered. This conflicts with other plans for the city; plans that suggest that the extension of Crawford Road is a necessary part of the development of the east side of town.

The city has already spent funds on extending utilities to the golf course lots located along Burbank Road. By not following the plans laid out by the planning commission and prior city councils, the city will have spent funds unnecessarily and failed to capitalize on the sale of future city lots.

The Crawford Road extension to Burbank Road could provide rapid service to developments below the bluff. Without this access road a fire or other emergency vehicle is forced to go west to University Street or east one mile to Fairview Road. Why are we denying this access to Burbank Road when fire safety access, police and ambulance access as well as convenience for residents and school children will be compromised by not building this extension?

It should be noted that two thirds of the right of way for the Crawford Road extension is owned by the city in anticipation of building this extension. It has city-owned buried utilities on this right of way.

The group that is proposing the Crawford Woods proposal has not set forth for the public the covenants that they have in their proposal. They propose a right-of-way only 10 feet wide. It would not be lighted. It would be closed at night and all winter long.

In reviewing the map it appears that this woodland would only be needed to make connection to existing city-owned right-of-way for a distance of about 100 feet, 10 feet wide. If anyone cuts down a tree over two inches in diameter that is not needed to maintain the path, the contract calls for the land to revert to the present owner.

So, we the undersigned citizens raise the following questions concerning the Crawford Road extension to Bluff Road.

1. Is it OK for the city council to renege on a plan that has been in place for over 30 years without any consultation with the planning commission?

2. Is it OK for the citizens to isolate a neighborhood from the rest of the city when one of the reasons they built there was based on a plan that promised a convenient link at a planned time that would assure convenient fire, police and ambulance service to them?

3. Is it OK for the city council to renege on a plan that will depress the value of land they hope to sell in the future?

4. Is it OK for the city council to renege on a plan that they used to increase the cost of services installed by a developer who relied on their promise to construct this road as part of his business plan and made this promise a part of his sales promotion to customers?

We, the undersigned citizens call on the voters of Vermillion to vote �Yes� on Amendment A and �No� on Amendment B concerning the extension of Crawford Road from the corner of Crestview Drive to Bluff Road.

Lisa Bye
Harland Durkin
Karon Fuller
Milo Gilbertson
Sally Gilbertson
Paul Hagenbuch
Jerry Hansen
Bob Husby
Bridget Jacobson
Ron Johnson
Lisa Ketcham, citizen
Roger Kozak
Dawn Kropuenske
Cory Moore
Dave Moore
Michele Moore
Young Moore, III
Jack Powell, citizen
Scott Schempp, citizen
Harlan F. Schott
Dawn Sibson
Ralph H. Westergaard
Lori Whitman, citizen
Dave Hertz

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