Council Votes to Move Forward on Wende Proposal
March 5, 2020
The words of neighbors in Veteran’s park area fell on deaf ears as the council voted to demolish the now vacant AMVETS building and the community garden.
While there was support to for the community center and the ultimate relocation of the Mayme Clayton Museum residents of the neighborhood voiced strong objections to establishing low income or homeless housing.
Veteran Larry Laughlin spoke about the eviction from the AMVERTS building. He said to the council, “Give us back our home.” The building has been used by veterans since 1946.
Steve Siegel, a resident of Wagner Street that backs up to the Culver Blvd. property canvased dozens of his neighbors said that 100% of the residents he spoke to oppose any housing on the property. “It’s not a good spot for homeless and low income housings.”
John Wahlert whose backyard backs up to the AMVETS building wants the building torn down as soon as possible. He commented that it was quiet an eyesore.
Michael Stivers who basically favored the project cast an ominous note about the reference to “parcels west” of the project. He urged the council not to link the project to other parcels which would obviously be the Scout House and the paddleboard courts.
Mark Lipman chastised council for only proposing 6 unites for the homeless. He told them the project should include 20-24 units.
Vice Mayor Goran Eriksson supported the Wende project however, “I don’t support this and I will never take parkland for public housing. We are short on public space for parkland anyway.” He thought the city should focus on bigger projects for housing.
The community center was unanimously approved by the council however the RFP for the additional housing passed on a 41- vote with Eriksson in opposition.
Councilmember Alex Fisch was pleased that there was a component for our veterans. He went on to comment that he did not consider the community garden public parks space. As a personal reference he said, “It was not public parks space for me and my kids.”
Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells remarked, “what we have before us is a very happy middle ground.”