letters to the editor

On which side of history

April 1, 2009 // 0 Comments

Dear Editor, “Narrow streets, shaded by towering trees, and lined with well-kept, two story homes….families strolling throughout the neighborhood, chatting with friends along their route to the ice cream shop(s) downtown…such scenes are commonplace in Rockford, a picture of small town America” (Rockford Master Plan, p. 18). I am not a fan of felling homes, especially historic ones.  I am in favor of preserving them “to the fullest extent possible.” I am especially not a fan of “demolishing viable housing to make way for parking lots.”  Residential charm, once lost, can never be put back ( Rockford Master Plan). Take a stroll down the east side of North Main Street, from Rocky’s Ice Cream north to Lewis Street.  Since the earliest pioneers came to Rockford, in 1842, this stretch of street has always been residential. It was filled with homes and yards and trees and the lives of the many families who lived there. Over half of the street is now paved parking lot.  Of the sixteen homes that once graced this street only eight of them remain.  And in their wake we are left with two large commercial parking lots ( both owned by Wolverine World Wide), one medium-sized parking lot (owned by Pederson Funeral Home), and one small city parking lot (created when the old Oatley Theatre was removed in the 1960’s).  How did this once tree-lined, pedestrian-friendly street become a parking lot for parking lots? I don’t think anyone planned it this way.  I don’t know as if much long-range planning was involved.  One by one the homes disappeared, and whether the objections come before or after, it was always too late. Commercial needs took  precedence. With eight family homes now removed from but just one side of a street, one hopes that the stark result will speak for itself.  But then another home comes on deck to be demolished in mid-April of this year. This home, just north of Rocky’s  Ice Cream is 138 North Main Street. It will be sad to see another piece of Rockford’s history slip between our fingers. It’s always sad to see them go. I know for I have seen some of these homes fall right before my eyes.  Just north of Rocky’s Ice Cream stood […]

Why Do Away With the Tannery?

March 19, 2009 // 0 Comments

Dear Editor, They call it restructuring. It’s more like company greed. The tannery is making money, just not enough. How much is enough? Why does everyone have to leave the U.S.A. and outsource production to Asia? Sad, isn’t it. The meeting at the city council chambers on March 12 had some good ideas. Save the tannery, get industrial jobs in there. Not more stores or office buildings to sit empty for years. Get jobs for the many people losing theirs, like the 125 tannery workers. And I’m sure the $500,000 lost income to the sewer authority will make people pay more to use water. Michigan is about to leave the map! Char Allen Rockford

Take up City’s Offer to Hear Opinion on N. Main Development

March 5, 2009 // 0 Comments

Dear Editor: Wolverine World Wide has announced the proposed closing of its tannery. Would you like to hear others’ ideas? Would you like to express your ideas? Are you interested in the future of Rockford and the potential redevelopment of the North Main Corridor from Courtland to the Shoe Depot? Our City government wants to hear our input and get our ideas for Rockford’s future. An informal open house will be held in the City’s Council Chambers on Thursday, March 12 starting at 6 p.m. City staff and the City’s planning consultants will be there to listen. The possible redevelopment of the North Main Corridor is something all Rockford citizens have a stake in. I hope to see you at the Council Chamber on March 12! Mike McIntosh

A Michigan Mistake: Handing over Wetlands to Fed Authority

March 5, 2009 // 0 Comments

Conservationists oppose move Representative Tom Pearce in his February District 73 message said “I support and will work to transfer the state-run wetlands program, currently under the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, to the Environmental Protection Agency, making Michigan consistent with 48 other states;” As a member of the Izaak Walton Conservation Chapter, we cannot in good conscience as “Defenders of Soil, Air, Woods and Wildlife” allow this to take place. We need to act now. To: The Honorable Jennifer Granholm, Governor The Honorable Mark C. Jansen, Senator District 28, and The Honorable Tom Pearce, Representative District 73. We are writing you at this time because the Board of Directors of the Dwight Lydell Chapter of the Izaak Walton League is convinced that eliminating the Michigan Wetlands program is wrong and will have a negative effect on the environment, Michigan businesses and the Michigan economy. Michigan has been in the forefront since 1984 in protecting our wetlands, including those wetlands that the federal government cannot legally protect. Michigan is also a leader in permit review efficiency and speed. It is this quick and dependable response to permit applications that causes organizations in the private sector, beyond environmental groups, to support Michigan’s program, and who will be negatively impacted if Michigan’s program is eliminated. The federal government will not have sufficient inspectors in the field to confirm permit application, they have no incentive to issue permits in a reasonable time frame, and without a local presence, will have no incentive to be flexible if that is needed and appropriate. That says nothing about development in critical wetlands that can occur which will never be noticed by the federal government. The potential financial savings claimed by elimination of this program will be offset by a significant loss of effectiveness in protecting the environment and providing predictability for Michigan businesses. Loss of this program will have serious negative impacts on both the economic and environmental goals of this state, precisely at a time when Michigan needs a clear focus on both objectives. A most significant issue, other than a reduction in wetlands protection and a much longer timetable for permit processing, is the end of the ability for Michigan residents to contact a local official with whom they […]

Pearce Speaks in Defense of Wetlands Change

March 5, 2009 // 0 Comments

Tom Pearce returned the Squire’s call to ask for his opinion on this topic. He said it is important to note that the governor is promoting this bill as a cost savings for the state. “Although is would only save the state a couple of million dollars, that’s still a couple million dollars,” Pearce said. He further noted that Michigan is one of only two states to have an independent authority over wetlands. “This puts Michigan on an unlevel playing field with companies with multi-state growth. It creates a deterrent to working with the state because it brings in another layer of bureaucracy,” Pearce said. Businesses with paperwork and documentation to deal with the Environmental Protection Agency have to start from scratch in dealing with Michigan’s independent Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), he explained. Pearce said one of the reasons the DEQ was started by then Governor Engler was because it took so long to get approval from the EPA in wetland issues. Now, he said, it seems to take just as long to get DEQ approval as EPA approval. “Now that the DEQ is just as time consuming, one of the main reasons isn’t applicable,” he said. Pearce said he’s received a lot of “heat” in his approval of the bill, and said it is one he can see both sides of. “I do understand their position. Water and wetlands is very important to Michigan, so maybe we should be spending more money on it than other states. This is an issue that needs to be decided on facts, not emotion.”

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