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E-M:/ US 31 rural bypass

Enviro-Mich message from Tom Leonard <wmeactl@bigplanet.com>

The following ran in the Grand Haven Tribune as a paid advertisement on 
August 25.  Persons who desire more information are welcome to email me.

An Open Letter to the City of Grand Haven

In light of recent  action taken by the City Council of the City of Grand
Haven, endorsing the state's plan for a US 31 rural bypass of the City as
necessary and appropriate, the Coalition for Sensible Transportation
Solutions respectfully calls to the attention of the City of Grand Haven the
following facts:

 1.)  Alternative F/J1 does not and cannot solve the transportation
congestion problem in the City of Grand Haven.  MDOT's own data demonstrates
that in the year 2020, the congestion problem will still exist and the City
will still face an uncertain future.
 2.)  The City of Grand Haven is on record supporting F/J1, but should be
reminded that F/J1 calls for  six lanes of traffic through the city.  The
Cityıs support of F/J1 is clearly contradictory to the stated objectives of
the City.  In fact the City has never supported the whole of alternative
F/J1, but only the part that impacts the rural community.
 3.) Alternative F/J1 purports to rescue the City of Grand Haven from
runaway growth and development pressure, but it does so at the expense of a
politically less powerful constituency---the farms and township governments
in central Ottawa County.  It attempts to solve an urban problem by imposing
a rural solution.
 4.)  In supporting F/J1, the City of Grand Haven is jeopardizing the rural,
environmental, and historic character of Ottawa County by making a
sacrificial lamb of persons and lands outside its borders.
 5.)  The City has yielded to the pressures brought on it by state and
regional bureaucrats who are prepared to suffer the dismantling of the
County's largest industry, agriculture,  for the sake of runaway growth and
development.  In so doing, it is cooperating with a destructive, overbearing
state bureaucracy that has little concern for local planning or local
The Coalition for Sensible Transportation Solutions ( CSTS ) is made up of
township governments, farm groups, environmental groups, transportation
policy analysts and others who oppose the concept of driving a new
expressway through the state's most productive farmland and substantial
wetland and wildlife acreage.  CSTS opposes the destruction of farmland and
the environment by urban sprawl.

CSTS has contracted the services of one of the nation's foremost
transportation policy planning consultants, TDA Illinois, in order to work
toward a consensus on County transportation planning - a solution or set of
solutions that addresses the needs of the future without sacrificing the
environment, farmland, or the real needs of any political  jurisdiction.  In
particular, we are not seeking to sacrifice the City of Grand Haven in order
to protect our own interests.

Ottawa County's farms are an industry and a business, and they in turn
support the businesses and industries that supply them.  To throw this
economy away for the sake of a US 31 bypass is to throw away an enormous
business investment that has paid off in Ottawa County for generations.

West Michigan's wetlands and natural areas support hunting, fishing,
boating, and other recreations which, taken together, are also a major West
Michigan business investment.  To throw them away is to throw away a natural
resource that pays off year after year, and rewards us in ways that cannot
be counted in dollars.

Grand Haven, Holland,  and Muskegon area businesses are among those who
stand to suffer from this mid-course change in direction.  While  developing
Ottawa County all the way from Grand Rapids to the lakeshore may make
economic sense to a few adventurers and business interests from outside, it
is not so likely to benefit the traditional conservative business priorities
of our area, in which local people have invested their lives and fortunes.

CSTS calls upon the City of Grand Haven to repudiate its support for this
shortsighted and fundamentally immoral bargain.  It is one thing to oppose
bad planning and bad policy within one's own city---any public-minded
servant of the City would be obligated to do so.  It is quite another to put
forward and recommend another, substitute victim to the juggernaut of urban
sprawl, shortsighted experimentation, and bad state planning.  That is not a
proper attitude.

Instead, CSTS asks the City of Grand Haven to join it in crafting a local
solution in which all our communities can share and win.  In the next six
months we will spend more than $50,000 in privately - raised money, seeking
a solution that benefits the land, the environment, and all of us.  While
$50,000 is a great deal of money, it is paltry by comparison to the $500,000
in tax dollars designated to be spent by the state in a closed process
intended to enable a predetermined outcome.  Our process, which ought to
have been offered to the people by the State of Michigan, is open to
representatives of the City of Grand Haven, as well as to the people of
Grand Haven.  We invite and encourage your participation.  We pledge to the
City the same attitude of mutual respect, fair play, and truthseeking that
we adhere to with one another.


The Coalition for Sensible Transportation Solutions

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