Too familiar for comfort

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Too familiar for comfort

As someone too familiar with the traffic clot where West Main Street, Ridge Street, South Street, Water Street and Ridge-McIntire Road meet, I appreciated Jayson Whitehead’s overview of how imminent development will affect that already bad situation, “Can Ridge/McIntire handle traffic boost?” [Development News, July 29, 2008]. And I have to hope that the accompanying rendering of the Blue Ridge-blocking behemoth slated to loom there will wring a collective roar from all who still have a sense of proportion. I’m sorry to report, however, that the future is more fraught than described because of two more projects that the item did not mention.

One is Biscuit Run, the 3,100-unit subdivision approved by Albemarle County for just south of the city on what is called Old Lynchburg Road but is functionally Ridge Street Extended. The market downturn has given the developers pause. But we can be sure that building will begin sometime and that Biscuit Runners will use Ridge Street as their route to Downtown and (via Meadowcreek Parkway) to points north.

The other is “William Taylor Plaza,” the Southern Development proposal that city councilors are determined to enable at the corner of Ridge Street and Cherry Avenue—another already overloaded intersection. Southern Development has long controlled five parcels there. To build, it has needed two additional city-owned parcels on Ridge Street. Concerned neighbors have hitherto thwarted such plans. Last year, however, councilors decided in closed-door meetings to sell the city parcels to Southern Development. And they have persisted in that decision despite redoubled community concern and a petition drive that delivered 100 names to City Hall.

The petition called on councilors: 1) to follow with due diligence the city’s established policy for evaluating requests to purchase public property and 2) to conduct a thorough traffic study PRIOR TO ANY DECISION TO SELL the two city lots. (A study, of course, would assess whether the intersection could bear more traffic and whether introducing more there would be in the public interest.)

But councilors did not follow the established policy. Nor did they conduct a traffic study. Instead, they advertised the two city parcels for quick sale through a Request for Proposal tailored to Southern Development as single bidder. Southern Development made that single bid. On September 15, councilors plan a pro forma public hearing after which they will vote to sell and thereby enable the construction of 40,000 square feet of commercial space and 56,000 square feet of residential space (comprising 40 new households) barely three blocks from the thrash your item highlighted.

Also, let us not forget the other highly relevant roadway in this mix—the one that carries a lengthening stream of slow-crawling coal trains. Because those trains block all other traffic at Second Street SE, South First Street, Fifth Street SW, and Seventh Street SW for long intervals, they funnel extra frustrated drivers onto both West Main and Ridge.

Antoinette W. Roades
Charlottesville

Let him count the ways

You took a difficult subject to tackle [“Blunt truth,” July 29, 2008]! Very balanced and well written! You are a natural at showing the several sides to a young person growing up in a changing culture; you illustrated the pressures and responses with great writing class. The final impression: exceptional writer; great talent; leaving reader with feeling of credibility and understanding without bias.

Whitman “Pete” Cross
Charlottesville

Fact connoisseur

J. Tobias Beard: Nice article on rosés [“Wine’s blood,” The Working Pour, July 29, 2008]. One problem: your statement regarding most-consumed wine in south of France. Since south of France includes Vin de Pays and Midi, where most of the wine consumed is red, your statement is inaccurate! If, of course, you are only talking about Provence, then it is probably correct. But you should clarify your comments.
 
Stan Rose
Albemarle County

Punctuation frenzy

Vikram Jaswal states that their study played the music or video in the background while the children searched for hidden shapes [“Prof explains why sad children learn better,” UVA News, July 29, 2008]. Did he consider that if the background entertainment was not stimulating to the children that they would be more stimulated with the search for the hidden pieces????? Why the deduction of the background being sad indicates the child is sad eludes me. A happy movie in the background would take my attention to it (creating the lack of interest in finding the hidden pieces). 

Veronique Anderson
Charlottesville

Walking lessons

This is in response to the letter from Easter Mary Martin in the July 22, 2008, Mailbag. This letter is for all the people who have walked on the Downtown Mall without tripping over their own feet or falling on their face. She says she is mystified about why there is so much controversy over the bricks. Well, I will try to be delicate here, but come on! The real controversy is not over the bricks, but over the $7.5 million price tag for the bricks. Let’s get real for once. Have we forgotten that we are at WAR here, folks? We are at WAR, repeat WAR, with multiple enemies/countries/terrorist groups and we are worried about having smoother bricks! Let’s please, for once, get our priorities straight. I mean we can’t really count on our elected officials to prioritize for us anymore, so for once we should do it ourselves. Have you ever heard the old saying: “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it”?  Well, I know that the great majority of the bricks on the Mall don’t really need to be replaced. I and thousands of others have managed to walk on the Mall without ever falling. Walking is kind of like crossing (i.e. look both ways before you cross) the street: In order to be successful, watch where you place your feet. That whole coordination thing might nip you in the heels every now and then, but just get up, dust yourself off and keep going. Anyway, my main point is that if you feel there are cracked or broken spots in the sidewalk, either fix it yourself, walk around it, or please, PLEASE, just find something more important to gripe about! Before you go spending millions of our tax dollars on new bricks when there is nothing wrong with the old ones, just reach into that dark recess of your brain and think: health care…or new bricks, education…or new bricks, national security…or new bricks, savings for a rainy day…or new bricks, anything but new bricks. Come on, people, wake up!           

David Wasilewski
Greene County

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