City needs to stop catering to special interests

Editor, the Advocate:

Whether the St. Joseph expansion closes De Leon Street or not hinges, in some people's mind, on student safety. In literature, one would call that a straw man. It is a phony issue. In the past fifty years, how many students have been injured walking to or from their parked cars? By comparison, how many St. Joseph football players have broken a leg or arm, torn up a knee, or had a concussion in the last fifty years? Furthermore, it is just too easy to enhance pedestrian safety by eliminating parking on De Leon, closing the street during school hours, or other economical and convenient measures that have been suggested.

Others brush off opposition to closing De Leon by belittling the minor inconvenience to residents in the neighborhood. It isn't just residents. Vendors and visitors use the streets also. Every year, the city of Victoria spends hundreds of thousands of dollars to attract visitors. Wouldn't it make sense to make it easy for visitors to navigate the streets of Victoria? How many streets are already closed or discontinued? Trace Hiller or Loma Vista on the map. Ask Onstar to guide you to an address on Nursery Drive. Sure, we closed streets for DeTar. We could have closed streets for other major projects. What streets might be closed next year or the year afterward? Must we always react to special interests rather than a comprehensive master plan?

I really wonder if the incentive to close De Leon isn't the fear of jeopardizing the FEMA grant St. Joseph is seeking to underwrite construction of a new gymnasium. The plans are on some bureaucrat's desk awaiting approval. Would keeping De Leon open or changing the layout delay or even threaten the grant? Why shouldn't we get our fair share of Uncle Sam's money, and why would we keep De Leon open if that is the only price we pay? Is FEMA the tail wagging the dog?

Jim Stokes, Victoria