Since I can’t respond directly to the blog in the Citizen regarding the bump outs, “Fumble Recovery” (published 7.19.2014), I would like to address the “bump out” issue in a venue that allows two way communication and discussion. Unfortunately the aforementioned blog is a one way communication with no room for debate. As a lifelong Bellevue resident and taxpayer I find it difficult to digest that there has been so much controversy around this issue. I make it a point to get to as many council meetings as I am able to get to so that I can keep abreast of what is going on in my town. For quite some time there has been discussion back and forth about whether or not we should have bump outs in our streetscape design. Some on council stated that they did extensive research and that communities that have them did not like them. In my business, I travel quite a bit and have seen many communities with very well manicured bump outs that tell a great tale of the pride that the community has in it’s downtown business district. Have you been to any small towns like that?
I would challenge each and every one of you to take a quick read through this article in the Post Gazette. There are quite a few truths to this article. I have a few thoughts I will list below.
- I do feel that the borough needs to do a better job of communicating to the business owners the scope of the project so that stores can anticipate any disruptions that may occur. The construction does present some opportunities with traffic and access to some businesses. These changes are temporary but should be communicated in advance.
- Has the borough posted any type of communication (other than negative articles in the local paper) about the benefits of the storm water management and how we are on the forefront of what is happening state wide and around the country? If so I haven’t seen it.
- The borough needs to provide you, the members of the community, a vision of the final state of Lincoln Avenue. There should be a drawing posted at many places throughout the community to show where we are going. This, unfortunately was done and ready to go last year before the whole “bump out gate” started to unfold. Wouldn’t you feel better about the project if you saw what the end vision was?
- In the article it stated that “This has killed our business”. Seriously? It is a temporary inconvenience for a brand new sidewalk and new landscaping in front of the business at no cost to the business. I would encourage the business owners to look at the positive and think about how improving the look and feel of downtown Bellevue will impact your business down the road.
- I have heard many comments recently about the fact that the new bump outs are nothing but garbage collectors. Guess what? Bump-outs or no bump outs we need to start policing ourselves and taking some pride in our community. I personally have watched people walk right past a trash can and throw litter right in the street! Come on people – either way there is going to be litter if we, as a community don’t set an example and start citing some people for littering. We have an ordinance against littering right? Lets enforce it.
- Safety – It is common sense folks. If the distance that a pedestrian has to cross the street is less and the visibility to a motorist is higher the result is a safer experience for the pedestrian.
- Take a look a the pictures below. There were taken by me at the North Boros 5k this past weekend. It was quite a rainy day. The street sewer was completely backed up and very little water was passing through it. The new storm water drainage was flowing quite well. Plus which would you rather look at? As I did in last months council meeting I challenge any of you to walk to the corner of North Jackson Avenue and look up the street towards Kuhns and then turn around and look down Lincoln Avenue towards the center of town and ask yourself…what would you rather see in your community?
- Parking, Parking, Parking…I have had many people tell me about how much parking we lost due to the bump outs. I did a brief search and was unable to find out how many parking spaces are available in Bellevue but with the 3 municipal lots that I am aware of there never seems to be a difficulty finding a parking spot with a much shorter walk that trekking through the parking lot at any of our neighboring malls or super stores. Can the borough tell us exactly how many parking spots were or will be lost? There has to be a specific number. Is it as high as the propaganda that everyone is buying? Lets see. Can the borough publish a detailed list of what spaces will be or have been lost?
- Upset that you can’t pass that bus that is dropping people off? Guess what folks – that is illegal as well as unsafe.
Ok – I’ll stop my rant there. I would love to see some open dialogue around this topic. What do you want to see in Bellevue? I have personally spoken to many young people in the last few weeks who have moved into Bellevue because of it’s great location. Isn’t that what we want? Do you think that if we had a more attractive central business district we could attract more businesses and generate more tax revenue for the community? Wouldn’t that ultimately help with some of the other issues facing small towns across the region?We need to all put the claws away and come to the table and create the vision of what Bellevue can be. We are making tremendous strides forward and need to keep the momentum going. Have you considered coming to a Council meeting and telling the Council how you feel? Have you looked into serving on a committee in Bellevue? Come and use the opportunity to voice your opinion in a way that is constructive and able to be discussed.
Please don’t just sit on the sidelines and complain based on one way communication that you may read or the temporary inconvenience you may experience during this transformation. Look forward to what our little “hidden gem” can be with a little progress.