What do we think about Division St.?

A community-supported blogthank you.

UPDATED: 11AM to add a note of caution.

The results from the MyWHaT straw-poll are in!

In response to the question concerning the Division St./parkland ballot initiative — “if the election was today, how would you vote?”– MyWHaT readers pass the initiative 65% to 35%.*

Myself? I’m prepared to err on the side of yes. There are concerns about process, shortsightedness, narrow scope, lack of political will to declare a shared vision with teeth, pandering, alienation of key constituents, a lack of trust…faith…fortitude…abilities, and that it will unleash an army of zombies upon the city. Still, as of today, I’d vote yes.

In a future post, I may elaborate on some of these concerns, but for now, I’m content understanding that a majority–regardless of mode choice, simply want better access and improved quality of life throughout the community–Division St. included

[8-24, 10:30AM: Video removed by request]

* An online poll, on a niche blog, comes with a very large burlap bag of salt. Beer induced estimates put the accuracy for the greater community at a  ± 10% to  ± 30%. Meaning, at this moment, the ballot has a fifty-fifty chance of passing. 

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  1. August 20, 2012 at 8:52 am

    Too funny. Well said, Chelsea!

  2. Greg
    August 20, 2012 at 9:26 am

    Sorry to Carter and my mother, some people are just rude with their language, striving for new lows. I am aware of 5 votes for NO until City leaders promise NO roundabouts.

  3. Raymond Minervini
    August 20, 2012 at 11:31 am

    Greg: If the street were redesigned, what would you want it to be like? What design outcomes are important to you?

  4. Greg
    August 20, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    That’s one of my issues Ray, I have yet to see anyone define the problem objectively. We cannot fix the problem until it is defined. Most issues I have heard about are quite subjective; I don’t feel comfortable crossing, I bought a house on division and think there is too much traffic and noise or I started a business at the old State Hospital Grounds and feel better access is required. I travel 3 to 4 times a week, yet to see where the problems are. The road was just repaved (thank you after the long wait) what a waste of tax dollars to tear it up and start over, I think it works fine. If I thought otherwise I would not use, life is full of choices. My tax dollars just built you Silver Drive on the promise it would alleviate all the problems, I guess in some minds it didn’t. After driving on many roundabouts in this country, I do not want our many first time tourists or my elderly mother-in-law navigating their way through roundabouts with a head on a swivel approach. Now back to my original point, does the f-bomb need to be dropped on a site partially sponsored by a little boy collecting compost. Today’s post was just in bad taste for those trying to garnish public support.

  5. August 20, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Greg, sorry to upset you with the use of a cuss word–perhaps I needed a warning on the original so readers could make their own choice.

    That said, I find the fact that many people, many of whom are parents accompanying their children, don’t feel comfortable crossing Division St. even at the signalized intersections, a bigger offense to my sensibilities than an f-bomb dropped in as modifier to a descriptor. The fact that people avoid Division St., a street running through a neighborhood, regardless of their mode choice signals that there is an issue here. As a tax-payer in this community, I say we try for better than good enough.

  6. KcDeyoung
    August 20, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Division is a f%cking fine road and hi-way that gets people from, around Tc to and from where they want to go. If you don’t like it, then get your local little planner to get off the dime, pull out the by-pass designs and get going! They have been tucked away in a drawer for years.. you and everyone else knows it!

    Also, has anyone noticed the house that sits squarely in the way of grabbing more westerly land? Kitchen coreography just dumped $400,00 dollars or more into it.. So you think they might have needed to be contacted on such vital interest notions before going off on this lanf grab mission? Whose in chaerge of this fiasco happening before us? Hmmmm

    So the only thing that f%*king sucks here is the lame attitudes and whiney bike lane minded and self serving business people that want us to give up something without knowing what it is we are voting for to give up and do!!! This is what f%*king sucks!

  7. August 20, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    Can someone please explain to me how one becomes so anti-every-form-of-transportation-that-isn’t-an-automobile? I have been driving for over 20 years but I also ride a bike and walk and run. I think that it is important for people to be able to move about safely regardless of their mode of travel.

  8. Raymond Minervini
    August 21, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    Greg: The problems of Division have been defined. See the Division Street Steering Committee Recommendations of 7/20/2011 (that and more here http://www.thegrandvision.org/Traverse-City-division-st-recommendations). Many citizens, some with design backgrounds, spent many hours on this because we believe Division is a detriment to our City. Not sure how we describe design goals without subjective or relative language compared to current conditions since a context-sensitive balance of factors is being pursued. But you’ll see the primary ‘non-subjective’ DSSC outcome is reducing driver speeds to 30mph.

    Re: wasted repaving- If any large scale redesign of Division happens, it will be many years in the future. No need to worry about wasted money on the repaving.

    Re: Silver Drive- This was based on a 20 year old State land covenant. _Our_ tax dollars built a public street. Watch the variety of vehicles, bikes and pedestrians on it and you’ll see that it’s used like most any other public street.

    Re: The ballot initiative- Yes, the process is imperfect, but apparently MDOT will not develop more street ideas with knowing what land may be used. No land will be sold without City Commission approval based on an acceptable MDOT street design. Like many other f-ed up streets in TC, I believe we Can and Must make Division Street better than it is today.

    For the reasoning behind many street/neighborhood improvement ideas and the new state law and policy for Complete Streets, see http://www.micompletestreets.org/. I would sincerely welcome a chance to talk with you about all of these issues in person if you are interested.

  9. Raymond Minervini
    August 21, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    Why in the world would people vote / rate negatively on 2 completely honest “no wrong answer” questions? Just asking… another honest question.

  10. GregGraetz
    August 22, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Based on an email inquiry I received earlier, I wanted to post a casual reminder to those of you who know me that my opinions are expressed on this site under the name “GregGraetz”, and are not associated with those posted by users with similar ID’s.


  11. Don
    August 22, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    This giving away of parkland to those that also support doing away with the City Fire Department, Are under a deluded mentality. Ok now you have all these pedestrians crossing Division Street..and no one able to respond in a reasonable amount of time to clean their carcass up off the pavement and revive them! Way to go city commission. No plan just rhetoric and knee jerk reactions.

  12. August 23, 2012 at 9:04 am

    The Division St ballot proposal is not well thought out, and no groundwork has been laid with the public. It was put on the ballot to check off a box on a couple people’s to-do lists, that’s it.

    Voter passage of a parkland-for-Division-St-improvements proposal was always a longshot, but now I would be astonished if it passed. If the complete streets constituency in TC advocates for the proposal despite the shortcomings and the proposal fails, that will handicap efforts of a future commission to do something positive on Division St for a long time. The argument will be – “you [complete streets advocates] tried to convince the public of your vision for the street, the public rejected it, so leave it alone.” If the proposal is rejected by a wide margin, the argument will be made with that much more force, and that will also drive reporting and commentary by the local paper.

    Having sat in those seats for five years, I can tell you that no one but the truest of believers is interested in parsing the detailed reasons why the voters rejected a proposal – if they rejected it, they simply want it dropped. If it’s not dropped, they get angry. (For an extreme case, review the history of the “new and improved” version of the Federated parking deck proposal, re-passage of which led directly to a changeover of all the contested seats on the Commission in the next election.)

    It would seem to me that the only way not to be strapped in the future to the likely-negative outcome on this ballot proposal is to distance ourselves from it right off the bat. Reject it because there is no plan, because 30 feet more corridor will not make a more friendly street, and because MDOT is not going to drop millions of dollars in Traverse City to prioritize people over traffic on one of their state highways. Then you won’t be trying to explain two years from now that the rejection of a ballot proposal you supported should not preclude more work towards solving a problem that is important to you. Not the most inspiring tack – I admit – but given the stakes and the current politics I would argue for pragmatism and against magic thinking.

  13. August 24, 2012 at 10:28 am

    i would appreciate taking this video down. This was not meant for public viewing, but just goofing around last saturday, talking about how hard it is to cross division on a bike, since i live on the other side. I apologize for this language. I am a walker, a biker, a driver as well and use Division on all of those levels.

  14. August 24, 2012 at 11:45 am

    My apologies, CBay. A bit of miscommunication between us, which is easy to understand considering we were having so much fun standing in the streets talking complete streets, mobility choices, and using my head as reflector.

  15. DebWilkens
    August 24, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Completely agree… Most of these folks here would lovew to see the fire department and ambulance crew arrive on bicycles…. 20 minutes later!

  16. August 24, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Deb, I’m hesitant to reply to your comment because it is a fairly knee-jerk reactionary response in itself. I think you, and other readers/commentators, will find that readers and contributors on MyWHaT have more in common than any of us might think.

    Fundamentally, we all want to live in and move about in a safe and inviting community. That includes having reliable emergency services. In fact, a quick perusal of the literature would show you that successful traffic calming programs can be implemented in a way that actually maintain or improve emergency response times. This is acheived by a more efficient and safe system. Other successes of implementing projects that value complete streets is a reduction of overall congestion. This is achieved both by an increase of a more diverse mode share and by a reduction of friction for us as drivers as we utilize the increase number of bike lanes and cycle-tracks when on our bicycles.

    The Division St. question is a lot of things, but it is not a question of one mode over another, as is implied in a few of these comments. High speed, 4-lane stroads with multiple conflict points serve no one well.

  17. Don
    August 25, 2012 at 10:39 am

    One persons “straod” is another person road to somewhere…. Lighten up Gary you may live a more healthier and less stressful life.. get out, in your car and hit the highway..or do you shake at the thought of it and huddle in your closet wishing to be in the 4th grade again?!

  18. August 26, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    No, Don, I don’t shudder at the thought of a car ride and have my own fondness for the occasional road trip or Sunday drive. They are a privilege and pleasure I’m thankful to afford and have access too. If you’re interested, let’s get a cup of coffee someday and go for a drive together to discuss issues. Just send me a message to introduce yourself.

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