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Thursday, Aug. 6, 2009 01:25 pm

Letters to the Editor 8/6/09

New urbanism, downtown Springfield, and Jim Krohe

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The 2005 master plan envisioned new townhomes surrounding a neighborhood park in Springfield’s Mid-Illinois Medical District.

NEW URBANISM HERE

If you want to see what a new urbanist philosophy can do for a city similar in size to Springfield, it’s worth a trip to Madison, Wis.,

or closer to home, Normal, Ill. [See “New urbanism the Springfield way,” by R.L. Nave, July 30]. Older neighborhoods within walking and biking distance of the downtown are beautiful and thriving with families who are putting money into renovations that increase property values, as well as the tax base.

Bike trails, both on and off city streets, offer a safe, healthy transportation alternative, reducing consumption of air polluting carbon fuels. New development is directed towards infill in the city’s already existing street grid and away from sprawl at the edges. Open space initiatives protect urban stream corridors as part of a network of larger natural areas and wildlife corridors.

The result: people are outside more, are more physically fit, live in beautiful neighborhoods, use less fossil fuels and enjoy a closer relationship to nature.

For this to happen here will require leadership from the mayor and city planners, who must offer incentives to bring the right kind of development to a withering urban environment. Go to West Jefferson Street between Pasfield and Lewis Streets and look south toward Springfield High School, and you will see 100 acres of ugly asphalt.

Ironically this is the area where Thomas Kelley built his first log cabin in the 1820s, founding the community that would grow into the city of Springfield. We can do better.

As it is now, we still offer developers incentives to build on farmland at the edge of the city, continuing our destructive ways. New urbanism won’t come quickly, and it will be block by block, but let’s start moving in that direction.

William Crook
Springfield


DOWNTOWN CLOSED DOWN

As a frequent visitor to Springfield, I notice the downtown streetscape has improved in design and in occupancy. Now, if dining spots can just figure

out that it makes sense to stay open past 5 on weekends and holidays!

I was through Springfield on Memorial Day weekend. A number of tourists were in town, because Monday was a day off for many. Many of the restaurants on the Old Capitol Plaza (Feed Store, the bistro next door, and others) were all closed, forcing a throng of people to go to the few eateries that were open, and they were ill-equipped to handle the crowds and seemed to not want the crowds. It would seem to be common sense that if you are going to have major tourist sites in proximity to a downtown, a downtown will capitalize on that and have amenities that are needed and wanted by the consumer.

Daniel Fry
St. Peters, Mo.


WELCOME BACK KROHE

What a pleasant surprise to see Krohe back at IT! Missed him every one of those 15 years, and so delighted he’s back, and in his old form. It took his discerning eye and acerbic pen to point out a much ballyhooed project was something short of a, er, capital idea. Welcome back, James, and do stick around and once again tell it (so well and cleverly) like it is.

Jerry Jacobson
Save Old Springfield


ASTONISHING WASTE

Thanks for bringing back Jim Krohe! I have missed Jim’s acerbic observations since he left Illinois Times.

In his first new column (July 30) it was gratifying to see him take on the expensive silliness of the Capitol Avenue “promenade.” He states what should be obvious, but evidently is not: Capitol Avenue “is neither the gateway to downtown, nor a gateway to the city.” Pouring millions into this project is an astonishing waste.

I look forward to Jim’s future columns. He should find no lack of material here.

Virginia Scott
Springfield

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