Elmwood Trail Extension Controversy in Omaha



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Masa Critica

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Looks like we've got a bike trail controvery brewing in Omaha. I was on Happy Hollow Road the other
day and saw some signs up on people's lawns, saying "STOP TRAIL" and either "Save Our Neighborhood"
or "Save Our Trees." There was a phone number, but nobody answered.

So I picked up a local neighborhood newsletter (of the "Dundee-Memorial Park Association") to see
whether there was any info about it. I found out that it's in reference to extending the Elmwood
Trail from Memorial Park to Saddle Creek, by way of Happy Hollow Road. They set up a website:

http://dundee-memorialpark.org/trailwatch.htm

The extension will ultimately connect up with Fontenelle and points north. Here's a description
from the Nebraska Department of Roads, who calls it the "Omaha Inner City Trail": "$329,270 for
preliminary engineering and construction of a trail connecting Memorial Park and Fontenelle Park
in Omaha. The proposed 1.7 mile, 8-foot wide trail is located along Happy Hollow Boulevard
beginning at the north end of Memorial Park and ending at Northwest Radial Highway just north of
[Decatur] Street."

This is all informative, but I still don't have any idea who's objecting to the trail or why. I
called a few times, but nobody's answered the phone number on the signs. I saw a brief TV news
segment in which a woman mentioned "safety factors," but there's been no other coverage.

Does anyone know what the controversy's all about?
 
M

Max

Guest
Masa Critica wrote:
> I saw a brief TV news segment in which a woman mentioned "safety factors," but there's been no
> other coverage.

I'd be very interested in hearing of what you discover. I suspect that you're describing is occurrin
in an affluent, white upper/upper-middle class neighborhood.

AND I will bet that what they're _really_ concerned about is "people of colour" gaining stealthy
access to their neighborhood. Something similar happened along certain parts of the Chicagoland
Prairie path when it was created/consolidated years ago.

Sadly, some people are such risk averse cowards that they see anything affording ped/bike access as
dangerous and needful of opposition.

.max
 
D

Dennis P. Harri

Guest
On Fri, 21 Feb 2003 01:01:43 -0600 in rec.bicycles.misc, max <[email protected]> wrote:

> I'd be very interested in hearing of what you discover. I suspect that you're describing is
> occurrin in an affluent, white upper/upper-middle class neighborhood.
>
> AND I will bet that what they're _really_ concerned about is "people of colour" gaining stealthy
> access to their neighborhood. Something similar happened along certain parts of the Chicagoland
> Prairie path when it was created/consolidated years ago.
>
the same thing is happening in anchorage, alaska now too. the NIMBYs object to the extension of the
wonderful anchorage coastal trail to the southern coast of the city. the same kind of objection
occured a dozen years ago when the first part of the trail was built, but the adjoining property
owners now all consider it an asset, and houses on the trail now go for higher prices than those a
block away.

this business of folks objecting to a trail in their neighborhood happens regularly all over the
country. for some reason it's ok to have a street in front (or even in back) of your house, but a
trail that doesn't allow automobile access is somehow suspect? these folks seem to think that
homeless & poor people will use these trails, when from my observation it's usually yuppies on
roller blades or on overly expensive showoff bikes they only ride on nice days.

that makes about as much sense as some local NIMBYs here who didn't want streetlights in their
neighborhood because "it would make it easier for kids to steal stuff from cars" ignoring the fact
that thefts would be reduced if the street was lighted.
 
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Steve McDonald

Guest
What the neighborhood obstructionists fear is the savage, roving bicycle gangs that immediately
swarm onto new pathways and pillage every nearby residence. They have no problem with the wholesome,
always law-abiding people who drive motor vehicles past the front of their houses. Have you seen the
credit card commercials that show a horde of barbarians sacking the houses of people who don't have
the right kind of card? This is the image that uptight, establishment types, who are non-riders,
have of us unwashed bike thugs.

Steve McDonald
 
M

Mitch Haley

Guest
max wrote:
> AND I will bet that what they're _really_ concerned about is "people of colour" gaining stealthy
> access to their neighborhood.

Somebody should point out to them that they already have public roads running right in front of
their houses, and they consider that to be a benefit. Mitch
 
M

Masa Critica

Guest
The trail does go through, as you put it, "an affluent, white upper/upper-middle class
neighborhood." An existing trail network that ends near the University of Nebraska at Omaha would be
extended to an African-American neighborhood. I don't know whether racist fear is involved, but
again, they're not communicating their concerns much at all, so who can tell?

It's strange that the state is calling this the "Omaha Inner City Trail," since it actually avoids
the inner city. There's a different proposed future trail that's closer to the city center, which
would go nearby the birthplaces of Malcolm X and Gerald R. Ford.

I found another newsletter with an uncredited concern about the trail running "literally through
their front yards." "Literally?"
 
K

Keith F. Lynch

Guest
max <[email protected]> wrote:
> AND I will bet that what they're _really_ concerned about is "people of colour" gaining stealthy
> access to their neighborhood.

Something they can't possibly do using the roads. There's a great danger that a burglar will take
your new wide screen TV, and haul it away on his bike. And that a kidnapper will use a bike to take
away your children. Thankfully, such crimes are completely impossible with cars on roads.

> Something similar happened along certain parts of the Chicagoland Prairie path when it was
> created/consolidated years ago.

> Sadly, some people are such risk averse cowards that they see anything affording ped/bike access
> as dangerous and needful of opposition.

Here in Northern Virginia, one house has a spotlight shining along the W&OD trail. When I talked to
the homeowner about the risk that it would cause cyclists to crash, he said that was his intention.
He didn't like cyclists near his precious house.
--
Keith F. Lynch - [email protected] - http://keithlynch.net/ I always welcome replies to my e-mail,
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