LETTER TO THE EDITOR
This letter appeared in the Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) on 1 July 2002.
This item may be cited as M. R. Franks, Letter to the Editor: Project foe responds to column, Baton Rouge Advocate, July 1, 2002, at 8B.
Copyright © 2002, M. R. Franks
Permit me to respond to Adrian Angelette's June 25 commentary regarding the June 18 meeting of the Comite Drive Property Owners Association, Inc. Public officials were not invited for the precise reason that this was our first meeting - our one chance as property owners to caucus among ourselves to determine our position before presenting that position to our elected officials.
At no time did I target or "insult" our mayor-president or any Metro Council members. I politely pointed out the dollar amounts of campaign contributions that certain council members and our mayor-president had received from the construction and road-building industries. I indicated there was nothing illegal about accepting such contributions.
I said, "We like our mayor and Metro Council members, and we want to be able to support them." I then called on our elected officials to support us.
I suggested they could support us by cutting this extravagant project back to sensible size. We all agree that open ditches need to be covered or guard rails installed to make the road safer.
We on Comite Drive live on a beautiful, tree-lined country road. Our parish is budgeting $17.55 million to grab our front yards, reduce our property values and destroy the character and charm of our neighborhood, bulldozing our road into a multilane concrete highway denuded of trees, but instead featuring an unnecessary center turning lane running the full length, broad shoulders and then sidewalks - an 80-foot-wide mistake four times the width of our present road.
Three lanes? In the time I've lived on Comite Drive, I have never once seen a traffic jam or left-turn delay. This is a lightly traveled rural road that gets one-third the traffic that the two lanes of Old Hammond Highway have handled fairly well for years (the delays at Airline being due to a signal-timing problem).
Sidewalks? Did they even bother to do a pedestrian count? (No, they didn't.) There are dozens of streets in Baton Rouge that need sidewalks, so they want to spend millions to put them into a semirural area where there are no pedestrians. Are we to use these sidewalks to take cattle to market? Let them put their sidewalks where they are needed - in the city.
Yes, there was an election. This matter was put on the ballot - in a special election called for a "pothole tax." Perhaps proponents knew well what would happen if it were put on the ballot at a general election. So they called a special election - during the weeks immediately following Sept. 11, when public interest was focused elsewhere.
The specifics of this road project are not finalized. The project can still be scaled back to reasonable size, and our canopy of trees can be saved, all without having to call another election. But if another election is needed, then let us have one! Let's return this money to the taxpayers to use where road improvement is both wanted and needed.
In votes taken at the meeting, area property owners voted overwhelmingly against widening the road to three lanes, overwhelmingly against adding sidewalks we know to be useless in our rural area.
This construction project is a homeowner's nightmare and a road contractor's dream. It's time for us all to wake up.
We shall have a meeting soon. We shall give our elected officials every opportunity to attend and demonstrate that they are on the side of the people they represent.
Maurice Franks, president
Comite Drive Property Owners Association
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Copyright © 2002 by M. R. Franks - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED