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By reprinting this editorial and information on
the Brown-Delaware Expressway it is not ADNA's intent to rehash
past transgressions but to prevent further erosion of the historic
character of Anderson by remembering the ill-conceived "improvements"
of the past when present day decisions are made.
Note: Comments in italics have been added
by ADNA for clarity.
A September 11, 1974 Anderson Newspaper Editorial
concerning the Brown-Delaware Expressway.
|THE DICTIONARY defines progress as "A movement
forward". If the Brown-Delaware Expressway is the Rock administration's
(Anderson Mayor at the time) idea of progress, the city of
Anderson could do without a lot of it. Scheduled to cost more than
a million dollars, the seven-block long, winding street will be
only a three-lane route limited in its use to southbound traffic.
CITY OFFICIALS have told the public there is nothing new about the
idea. It was proposed some 40 years ago in a study conducted for
the federal government. That may be well and good - but it doesn't
mean that such a project is good for the city. As plans stand today,
the expressway will stop at Seventh Street on the north. Just how
traffic will get to it from Jackson along the inadequate Seventh
Street and Delaware Street we have not been told. Originally, the
expressway was to have been extended north and east to connect with
Jackson somewhere between Fifth and Sixth Streets.
THAT IDEA, however, has been scrapped because the city has run out
of funds to finance it. And funds are not the only problem that
has a arisen as a result of the construction work. Homes have been
demolished - some of them relatively new - as has a church and a
large brick business building. All this costs money - tax money.
Dozens of large, beautiful trees were destroyed to make room for
the street and many residents who have spent years paying for their
homes have seen their shrubs and lawns fall victim to the bulldozer.
In one instance, the expressway will cut through a lawn and be located
within a matter of inches from the corner of a residence. The three-block
stretch from Tenth to Thirteenth Street is destroying the value
of residential property because the thoroughfare will be located
only a few feet from the front doors of houses along Delaware.
SOME SAY ALL this is the price of progress and we fully realize
that some inconvenience is necessary if we are to move forward as
a city. The illegality and stupidity of the methods used in the
construction of the Brown-Delaware Expressway, however, overrides
any excuses the so-called planners and engineers might offer. When
property owners expressed disapproval of the project, they were
told by a city spokesman that no construction work would be started
until after Sept. 1. Such was not the case. When work was halted
on the downtown mall (Meridian St. from 9th to 12th) by federal
bureaucratic bungling, the contractor moved in the next day - in
early August - and started sawing down trees. Property owners were
given no advance warning whatsoever and many of them had not even
been contacted by officials regarding the purchase of the right-of-way.
WHEN WORK WAS started the contract for the work had not been approved
by the City Council. The contractor. in effect, was demolishing
houses, removing trees and destroying lawns before the elected representatives
of the public had been asked to vote on the contract. Preliminary
plans called for the expressway to be constructed through a portion
of the ground on which Seventh Street School is located. Apparently
no city official explored the alternatives there. When residents
opposed the destruction of the school, they were told by the School
Board there was no money available to build a new edifice and it
would be at least three years before funds would be available even
if inflation were halted immediately.
MANY PEOPLE have been wondering if a north-south street is necessary
and if so, was any thought given to locating it along the route
of John Street a few blocks west. We also wonder why, if the project
was proposed 40 years ago, it has not been given very serious consideration
by any administration since then until the incompetent and unqualified
"experts" of the Rock administration decided to start
in such an illegal manner without prior warning to the residents
and property owners affected. It is even more questionable just
why the mayor and the city attorney left for Japan just a few days
before the City Council was asked to approve the contract after
work had already been underway for more than five weeks.
THE QUESTIONS surrounding the entire action are
so numerous it would be difficult to ask them all. It has been
reported, however, that $284,000 in Redevelopment funds was spent
to acquire some 11 pieces of property. One parcel cost $82,000
and the tenants were paid an additional $18,500 to move their
business offices. No arrangements have been made with property
owners along Delaware Street for the purchase of portions of their
front lawns or damages for destroying the value of their property.
MONEY FOR construction and the purchase of portions of lots along
existing right-of-way will be paid from city funds. The point
is that regardless of whether federal or city funds are used,
it is all tax money coming out of the taxpayers' pockets.
We suggest the project and the manner in which it has been handled
is cause for deep concern on the part of every Anderson resident
- because it is costing everyone. They should find out why such
large sums of money were spent on a program opposed by many; why
work was started before official action making it legal was requested
of and taken by the elected City Council; why property owners
were not notified in advance that work would start and their trees
and lawns destroyed and, why the administration was so anxious
to carry out the project.
THE ANSWERS could be very enlightening.