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Wednesday, May 7, 2008 05:56 am

Cap City

Untitled Document specter of NIMBYism haunts Springfield — again All the western powers — Cobblestone and Scarborough subdivisions; Oak Park and Thornhill — have entered into an alliance against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and the retailer’s latest attempt to erect a 205,000-square-foot Supercenter on Wabash Avenue. (Wal-Mart’s previous attempt to build on the far west side was thwarted in early 2007). “It will absolutely change life on the far west side,” says John Myers, attorney for the Southwest Springfield Neighbors Association. The NIMBYistas convened Monday night to organize their latest revolution and distribute literature, which brought to light such issues as doubled traffic count in the area, safety along Archer Elevator Road, the need to widen Wabash, and a lack of government funding to make necessary infrastructure improvements. “Until they give us more information, we can’t say, ‘Yeah, we’re all for Wal-Mart out here,’ ” says SWSNA vice chair Deb Woods.
Of course, “We need additional information,” along with “It’s just that location” and “What about schoolchildren crossing the street?” are the main arguments outlined in the NIMBY Manifesto, a copy of which we obtained on moving to Springfield.
DEAD IN THE WATER Things at the Lake Springfield beach aren’t going so swimmingly. At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, several aldermen voiced concerns about the administration’s decision to close the summertime spot, noting that more families are nixing vacation plans as gas prices increase. But City Water, Light & Power general manager Todd Renfrow informed aldermen that the beach gets fewer than 1,000 visits each season and that the beach house’s cleanup charges are often twice the amount of its rental fee. CWLP previously announced that the beach would be closed and the newly available funds diverted to lake road and bridge repairs. The utility will continue to rent the beach house but will also renegotiate its fees. Aldermen were told Tuesday that CWLP has the final say-so on the beach’s plans and doesn’t require their consent. “I have the authority to do that, although I’d be glad to let you know what we’re doing so you don’t get your people beating you over the head either,” Renfrow said.
YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR Don Norton, a homeless man who lists Helping Hands as his address, visited the City Council Tuesday to propose the reorganization of project Clean Sweep “so that people like myself can get out there and work and show that we’re not just bums on the street as most people think we are.”
Norton said Springfield once ran Clean Sweep much like project Clean and Green, except it employed the homeless instead of high-school students to pick up trash. He asked that the city find funds through grants or in its own budget to restart the initiative. Mayor Tim Davlin later rejected the idea, saying that nearly 1,000 volunteers participate in Springfield Green projects — and that he’d hate to see the bill if the people were actually compensated.
A PLANT WITHOUT PLANTS On Monday morning, workers at the old Pillsbury Mill began clearing 30 trees that the plant’s new owner, Jim Ley, ordered destroyed two weeks ago. In addition to expressing outrage over the disruption of the neighborhood’s aesthetic charm, nearby neighbors now are worried about the potential of a fire at the 79-year-old facility, where electricity and power were recently shut off. However, city officials say that fire extinguishers are on site and that all combustible materials have been removed. Also, says City Hall spokesman Ernie Slottag, demolition will be conducted with the use of mechanical cutters instead of torches. “Fire inspectors will make periodic inspections to see that everything is up to snuff,” Slottag says, in accordance with an agreement made with Ley.
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