So what is in this gem? The reporter and headline writer try their best to conceal the content of the story from the reader with confusing terms, irrelevant pictures and rambling quotes. It took me a while to get the gist and it's a doozy.
A few folks got together on January 10th to grouse about why they are not being consulted on future "development" of Harper Court. The story claims that these "dozen" people represent the "Zoning and Development Committee" of the HP-K CC.
The HP-K CC website refers to a "Preservation-Development Zoning" task force (there is that word again) but doesn't cite a list of members or even the purpose of this "committee." There are long rambling posts by well-known NIMBYs on their "views" on development. However, I only devoted a short time to wading through the stream of consciousness that this website represents.
Let's get this straight. This is a standing committee that wants to weigh in on any issue involving preservation/development and zoning. We know that "zoning" is code for "alderman." As far as I can tell, this committee has no regular meeting schedule nor are minutes taken. Perhaps, the committee members do not feel it necessary to produce minutes as this is done for them by their faithful Herald scribe.
Harper Court is a particularly sore spot for NIMBYs. As we all know, Harper Court is a run-down set of badly designed retail spaces. The original mission of the Harper Court Foundation was to provide space for artisans. This mission is not being fulfilled (unless you think that vets or restaurant owners are "artisans"). The best thing to that could happen would be for the HCF to sell this valuable property to a developer and get out of the landlord business. With the proceeds of this sale, HCF could set up an endowment to aid local artists.
So what is the sore spot? The HP-K CC wants to be consulted on the future of Harper Court. Does this "committee" have any greater claim to input than any other random 12 people in Hyde Park? I think not.
The subtext of this article is that the HP-K CC feels threatened by real attempts to solicit community input. The recent "53rd Street Vision Workshop" was a meeting of more than 150 people who actually voted on issues near and dear to NIMBY hearts. In particular, those who attended the workshop voted overwhelmingly to endorse mid-rise and retail development.
I'm wrong, you say. The HP-K CC likes the 53rd street workshop. No, they "agreed that a community workshop similar to the" vision workshop is what they want. The article goes on to quote HP-K CC types questioning the representativeness of the workshop. In particular, the race card was played. In fact, the 53rd Street workshop was conspicuous for drawing younger people, families, and African Americans.
What our friends in the HP-K CC want is a recount. A chance to pack a meeting with NIMBYs much the same as at meetings regarding Doctor's Hospital and the Point.
To my mind, this reinforces the need to get out of the game of who can turn out more screaming people to a "community meeting." For a fraction of the cost of a "vision workshop," we could have a scientific poll which really would be representative. This, of course, limits the opportunities for some to appoint themselves as guardians of our community.