Railroaded: Who's Next?
During the discussion leading up to the Broadway closure, Springfield City Council rejected the motion to table made by Mary Collette, and seconded by Denny Whayne. This procedural change would have added the closure consideration to the overall planning looking at the railway changes. Examining the plan, it’s clear that businesses and residents are going to be sacrificed for the Jordan Valley Phase III project.
Two primary areas are in the way: Commercial Street businesses, and businesses and residents now located in the upper reaches of the Jordan Valley park’s footprint.
Commercial Street developers hope to find more parking space to accommodate more visitors with the proposed redevelopment plans. Currently, there are several old trackways north of Commercial Street.
Photo: Old tracks that lie just north of Commercial Street businesses: note Springfield City Police cars parked on the track right of way.
A glance at the railway plans dashed that hope. The plan calls for re-laying that trackage, which will place trains only a few yards from the back doors of businesses on the north side of Commercial Street.
Photo: Map of affected Commercial Street businesses on display at Dec 5th public input meeting.
The other area is in the footprint of the proposed Jordan Valley Park expansion. Several businesses will be dislocated, and some will find it difficult to find suitable new locations. For example, McCoy’s Iron and Metal, a metal recycling yard, relies on rail transport for steel scrap. Transplanting this business may lead to it’s demise.
Homeowners along Franklin Av and north of Phelps Street are even more vulnerable. Many are older, smaller homes owned by families for decades. Their “fair market value” will be nowhere near what it would cost today to build new homes.
During the railway planning public meeting, I asked City Manager Tom Finnie if business and residences were going to be subject to eminent domain buyouts. He indicated that this method is not being pursued. According to Finnie, the City is only acquiring those properties the owners offer for sale to the City. We’ll see how long this policy lasts as the Phase III project moves forward.
Jordan Valley Phase III map available at http://www.rrstudy.com/index_flash.html . This site also contains new railway maps in .pdf format.
All others taken by author also on Flickr.