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Monday, October 8, 2007

Prisoners of our own homes?

I keep hearing a lot of talk about streets opening up the Allied area so that through the middle of Allied Drive, there would be another street that goes through our neighborhood creating a pathway between our neighborhood and the rest of the Dunn's Marsh community. Many individuals are vehemently against this road, and following is a summary of reasons I have heard at various neighborhood association and public city meetings:

1 - The streets are already very narrow and the open pathway would increase traffic and residents don't want any more cars coming through their quiet street.

2 - It would be so expensive and as city tax payers, many individuals feel they have the right to say no on the grounds that it would just seemingly be irresponsible use of tax dollars, and that there are better things to spend money on.

3 - The individuals that tend to speed and race down Allied are thought to potentially speed down the newly open street as well, and who would want that?

4 - And lastly, perhaps an extension of the above point, some of the residents on the other side of Allied just don't want Allied people coming out to their domain. A street would seem like an open invitation to come out to their neighborhood.

There are some very basic reasons that I see in favor of opening up the street, some of which are summarized as follows:

1 - In terms of safety, if there are more openings into Allied Drive, that makes the neighborhood less segregated from the rest of the city and allows police to have more ways to come into the community serving as a deterrant to some of the crime areas that are somewhat out of reach to normal traffic.

2 - It would be easier for those of us whose mode of transportation is foot to have actual streets to walk down, as opposed to shortcuts through fields and brush, especially in the snow and rain. Speaking from experience, it totally sucks walking to Walgreens in the snow. No one shovels snow off the fields.

There are some basic urban planning reasons for opening up the streets that boils down to a healthy community needing streets to access the rest of the community. I remember going to a neighborhood meeting and hearing a resident from the other side complain about the prospect of the streets opening up and the reason cited was that he did not want "people from down there, up here." There was some consensus among those around him and I don't think that he realized that I was one of those dreaded people from "down there" and hearing that conversation made all of the above really irrelevant.

It seems the real question is whether Allied Drive is deserving of access to the rest of the city, or are we all summoned to remain trapped in this little street with minimal access to what all the other residents of Madison have access to.

When my father was younger, he would often opt for quick fixes on home repairs. We often fixed leaky pipes with duct tape. One thing I learned growing up is that band-aid fixes typically result in something blowing up down the road and requiring a lot of money and a lot of time, and sometimes a little bit of heart to fix. For example, when pictures are damaged in a flood, it takes a certain type of attention to salvage them. That leaky pipe is Allied Drive. For years, we have made little fixes on Allied Drive, parallel to duct tape on a leaky pipe, and things are ready to blow. So be prepared, Madison, the overall solution will require a lot of money and a lot of time, and maybe a little bit of heart.