|Karen Rowell and supporters divide the populace on North Avenue. Photo credit: Burlington Free Press|
A pilot project to renovate a major artery through a growing residential and commercial region of Burlington, already resoundingly supported by city council, came up before Burlington voters as an non-binding issue on Tuesday, fortunately solidifying that voters really want to see four lanes turned into three for the spring/summer trial period.
The whole debacle is mystifying to me. One resident who lives in the region solicited 500 votes on a petition, opposed to letting the trial happen, which put the issue on the ballot. Neighbors were pitted against neighbors. "4 Lanes 4 North Avenue" signs appeared everywhere. Many constituents who signed the petition later came forward to the press, claiming they were misinformed. Mayhem ensued. Council members in the aforementioned region went back and forth on the issue, while outspoken bike and pedestrian advocates took to the streets, wrote editorials, contacted their council people, handed out fliers, and posted their own signs "People for a Safer North Avenue".
|Photo credit: Liam Griffin on Twitter|
I quietly kept my opinions to myself during the past month, but followed the conversations floating on paper and online, all the while shaking my head at the insanity of the situation. I still can't quite understand how and why it all happened, how a plan to create safer streets in a high crash area, backed by numerous studies, where city government held neighborhood meetings, could back fire. Or more importantly, that the rising angst of so few could put a choke hold on city government.
I'm all for freedom of speech, but sometimes it goes too far. Thank goodness many residents weighed in with their vote, speaking up for the pilot project. But I'm still shaking my head.