Road supporters cite the need for progress in city development

Road supporters cite the need for progress in city development
Harlan Schott has traveled extensively in his lifetime, and he wonders why Vermillion resists adopting some of the best transportation ideas that have been implemented in other cities.

Lori Whitman is a lifelong resident of Vermillion who grew up on Crestview Drive at a time when the region was surrounded by corn fields instead of houses. She's baffled that the city, after developing and progressing to the east, is still resisting plans to develop a street in the region.

Dave Hertz first became involved in improving Vermillion by purchasing and revamping a trailer court. Today, he also operates a ready-mix concrete plant and Midwest Homes, a construction company.

Since 2000, he's been involved in building the Countryside Housing Development on the southwest edge of The Bluffs golf course.

The people who buy homes and live in the Countryside would benefit greatly if Crawford Road was completed. It would give everyone who resides below the bluff a new north-south route to upper Vermillion.

That has placed Hertz in the spotlight as Vermillion citizens have debated for most of this year on whether the Crawford Road extension should be built according to comprehensive plans first drawn up 40 years ago.

Crawford Road has become to be known as "Dave Hertz's Road" to some residents. The latest allegations, advertised on the front page of this week's Broadcaster, is that Hertz, or someone else, wants the road developed so they develop new businesses on commercial lots along Burbank Road.

"I have been in several parts of the world, and I have seen where growth has occurred in other cities, communities and villages," Schott said.

He was disturbed when the Vermillion City Council failed to take action on developing Crawford Road last spring.

"What we're doing is shutting down the ability for all citizens to allow growth and allow safety," Schott said, who recently traveled to New Jersey. "It's just unbelievable how city planning has occurred in that part of the world, just because they need to have access of all services to all citizens."

If the city doesn't complete Crawford Road, emergency responders will have to drive an extra half-mile to access the city's lower roads.

"That is a negative to this community," Schott said.

Whitman has listened closely to arguments for developing the road, and claims that the city and especially what was once her old neighborhood would be better served by a nature preserve and bike path.

She favors development of Crawford Road.

"It would be a safe, lighted, policed road, and it would include a bike path as well as a sidewalk," Whitman said. "I'm a lifelong resident of Vermillion, and I knew as a kid that this road was going in, and to see that it still hasn't been built is disheartening. Our city has taken so long to progress."

Vermillion residents shouldn't have to engage in battle among themselves to improve the city transportation infrastructure, Whitman said, especially when those improvements will mean better EMT and fire department response to anyone below the bluff in need.

"We have these people living in city limits, and the response time is not what it could or should be," she said.

The Crawford Road extension also would provide options that would ease the heavy traffic that has no choice but to go past Jolley Elementary School every morning and afternoon, Whitman said. �That�s a huge concern of mine.�

It�s important, she said, for Vermillion citizens to realize that despite some of the claims made by Crawford Woods supporters, Crawford Road is supported is by a large number of city residents, not just Dave Hertz.

�The road is supported by citizens in Vermillion, living in Vermillion, including business owners,� Whitman said.

What disappoints her the most, however, is the tone of the Crawford Woods supporters� campaign. They don�t limit their talk to simply promoting the nature preserve, Whitman said. In recent weeks, they have targeted Hertz.

�They have made some pretty slanderous comments about him,� Whitman said. �It�s sad that something has to happen like this. There is a side to every issue, naturally, but to personally slander an individual who has done nothing but to put money in this town.�

Hertz said he doesn�t know why Crawford Woods supporters now believe he plans to develop a strip mall and convenience store along Burbank Road. The area in question has been zoned commercially for some time.

�And anywhere else where there is a road platted, it goes through,� he said. �If you want to vacate Crawford Road, then you�ve got to do what you do with any other street.�

According to city regulations, 100 percent of people who live along a street have to agree to vacate it. A minimum of 45 percent of people who live along a road have to agree to develop it into a street, and whether you are for or against the street development at that point, you will be assessed for it.

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