Thursday, April 04, 2002

Wyoming group slows down on land-use plan

By Jenny Callison
Enquirer Contributor

        WYOMING — Officials have backpedaled on several aspects of a proposed downtown enhancement package that contains plans for a hike/bike trail.

        Faced with complaints from some residents, members of the Wyoming Joint Task Force on the Crescent Park Area are looking at other possible uses for land in the study area. The study includes several blocks fronting the railroad right of way and numerous parcels along Wyoming Avenue.

        A hike/bike trail linking downtown Wyoming with the city's recreational facility is proposed to run north and south along Van Roberts Place. But the task force's decision to rethink its recommendations leaves the route — and perhaps the future of the trail — in doubt.

        City officials have decided to go door to door in the affected neighborhood, which is largely African-American, to gauge sentiment about the bike route and related land-use proposals.

        The crux of the issue is what to do with land between the railway and the east side of Van Roberts Place when the city's old water plant is demolished. If residents favor eliminating two run-down houses along the east side, it could be developed as green space and the bike trail located there.

        Task force consultant David Scheer will try to incorporate a broader range of suggestions in the proposal.

        The Joint Task Force was initially charged with determining the best use of property south of Wyoming Avenue between the railroad and Crescent Avenue. But the group's proposal grew to encompass more aspects of downtown. Residents of traditionally black neighborhoods included in the study became alarmed at the implications for their property.

        Two residents of the neighborhood recently were appointed to the task force.

        “Narrowing Van Roberts (to accommodate a bike trail) will cause residents problems,” said Hubert Guest, a consultant retained by Van Roberts Place residents.

        Planning Commission Chairman Albert Delgado said that the task force thought many aspects of the proposal would appeal to neighborhood residents and enhance the value of their property.

        “That was our concept, but our concept has really backfired on us,” he said.

        When city officials have gathered responses from the neighborhood, the task force will take another look at its proposal.


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