We Might Not Have Had a YMCA Meeting, But We Have The Staff Presentation

So, last night’s YMCA hearing was canceled, moved to August 7. In lieu of that, here’s community development manager Harry Persaud’s presentation that would’ve been shown.

The most interesting slide to me is this one:

Source: University Park

What you’re looking at is the approval/disapproval map of University Park residents. As is expected, the majority of the city approves of the Y’s renovation. What startled me is that there is no other household in the city that disapproves. I recognize that the Y asked its supporters to send in letters of support, but this is still a jarring map, especially for opponents, I imagine.

Here’s the rest of the presentation:

Harry Persaud Staff Slides YMCA Pre Meeting

30 thoughts on “We Might Not Have Had a YMCA Meeting, But We Have The Staff Presentation

  • July 18, 2012 at 5:59 pm
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    Regarding the map showing green houses in favor, I attended the pre-meeting also and took away a slightly different description of the map. This map does not have the “opposed” households shown. Mr. Persaud put the result of the responses from the state required inquiries to addresses within 200 feet of the project (the ring of red around the YMCA) and the “in favor” houses. Mr. Persaud mentioned in passing that the “opposed” notices are in the near-by properties but not shown in the map.

    So, there are “opposed” households outside of the 200 foot paremeter of the YMCA. Mr. Persaud has a count of 69 in one of his slides.

    That is what I heard. Maybe someone else that was there heard something else? What do you think?

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  • July 18, 2012 at 6:06 pm
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    On the topic of signatures “in favor”, there was a question from a council member about how the “in favor” letters were received and if they were solicited.

    My opinion, putting a petition in the lobby of the YMCA and asking with a sign and sometimes actually having a person stand there and ask people for signatures qualifies as solicitation. Sending emails to members asking for support with letters or by coming by to sign the petition qualifies as solicitation.

    I personally know people that signed “in favor” when it was first announced but now that they see the plans have written letters to say they are “opposed”. This process does not remove them from the “in favor” list. I know where they live and the houses are still green.

    Whether that changes the valueof a signature or how much a signature is weighted, well… we will just have to see. For me, a solicited signature given in passing is “in favor” of the general concept and should not be taken as support for the specific plan. Understanding the plan is more involved and takes a lot of effort. The kind of effort that only people who live in the most impacted area are likely to put in.

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  • July 18, 2012 at 9:45 pm
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    Pretty revealing graphic. Sounds like opponents commenting here are grasping at straws. When will the not in my back yard knee jerk reaction run its course? Pretty small-minded immediate neighbor reaction. Our neighborhood can only prosper from this proposal. What could neighbors possibly oppose? The way I see it, this plan takes traffic and parking off their streets. Am I missing something?

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  • July 18, 2012 at 11:28 pm
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    What it reveals is that, consistent with his track record, Harry Persaud has a stake in this and as usual, prepares very misleading graphics. Two years ago, we had an issue where NINETY-SIX PERCENT of the residents within the 200 feet sent the form back as opposed and NONE were opposed. Persaud’s slide had 100% in favor. He later said he “never received” the signatures from the opposed, but did receive one signature in favor–from the petitioner who was not even a resident within the boundaries!

    I’ve read on this blog that the city staff gets their bonuses paid for by PACs such as the Community League. This is the kind or corruption that results from that.

    By the way, after getting a revised map in front of the council that was almost entirely red (opposed), the council still granted the petitioner’s wishes. They had prepared statements that they read at the conclusion of the meeting that was supposed to be a “discussion” of the issue.

    I’m on the other side of town and don’t belong to the Y, so I don’t care one way or the other on this issue. But the bottom line is this: whether the residents and citizens of UP are for or against YMCA expansion is of no matter. It has already been decided by the few who control things.

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  • July 18, 2012 at 11:31 pm
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    To repeat, I don’t care how this comes out, so I’m not grasping at a straw here, but Bradford, how does that graphic show that a “majority of the city approves” the expansion? The vast majority of houses on that map have not stated a preference. That map shows that nowhere near a majority of the city has expressed approval (or opposition).

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  • July 19, 2012 at 12:31 am
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    Oh come on! That’s about as legitimate as putting up a graphic showing all the folks in UP who support Santa Claus and all those who oppose him. Who’s going to send in a letter of opposition to Santa and have their property outlined in red in the public record for all to see? That’s not a real “Pulse of the City”. It’s pure propaganda. Totally unfair and it does not belong in a presentation by city staff.

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  • July 19, 2012 at 7:44 am
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    Level head, I don’t live near the Y, but I don’t want a lengthy construction project that would increase a commercial enterprise’s footprint in my residential neighborhood either. Some of the street parking might be removed, but I doubt traffic will decrease. What do neighbors oppose? How about a significant drop in property values? I would bet selling a home around the Y is difficult already, but the uncertainty that this project adds doesn’t help. To call the immediate neighbors small-minded is a bit vicious, don’t you think?

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  • July 19, 2012 at 9:03 am
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    @nfw, you bet selling homes around the Y is difficult?? Have you driven around the exclusive lil enclave that is the neighborhood behind the Y? I don’t think there’s any problem at all with the values of the houses back there. I’d take most any one of them! Even during construction those houses will be in demand.

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  • July 19, 2012 at 10:03 am
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    A house about 300′ from the Y (west of Preston) just sold before ever hitting the market, despite the ‘Y Too Big’ signs in every front yard. Doesn’t sound as if selling houses is that difficult despite the controversy.

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  • July 19, 2012 at 10:08 am
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    Bradford, Unstartle yourself since that slide was deliberately skewed.

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  • July 19, 2012 at 10:20 am
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    The opposition to the current YMCA renovation plan is not a knee-jerk reaction “not in our backyard” from the neighbors. We have been in meetings with the YMCA for over a year, and we have spent hours reviewing the plans, and we paid for our own traffic study. We are not opposed to a new YMCA; we are opposed to the current plan. The parking garage sounds like a great idea, but the current design has only one exit onto Normandy that will allow left or right turns onto Preston Road, and we believe Y patrons will experience long waits to get out of the garage, and then will face gridlock on Preston, and they will start parking in the neighborhoods again anyway. In the current plan, all surface parking around the Y will be removed, so anyone who comes to watch their child play in a volleyball, basketball, or soccer game, who may need to leave immediately after the game, will park in the neighborhood to avoid the parking garage. This will force us to establish a parking district which our block does not want and we believe this would decrease our property value. In the afternoons from 4:00-7:00 pm, the Mockingbird/Preston intersection is often at a standstill, and we do not believe that the infrastructure around Preston Road, Mockingbird, Highland Park Village, Dallas Country Club will be able to handle the increased density of traffic that a new 65,000 sq. ft. YMCA with a full-sized gym and additional Y programming would bring to our neighborhood. The YMCA claims there will be no increase in traffic with the new facility but the town council is paying $11,000 for an engineering firm to review the YMCA traffic study.

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  • July 19, 2012 at 12:29 pm
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    I personally don’t care whether they build it or not unless people from Flower Mound start to move into the PC.

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  • July 19, 2012 at 12:57 pm
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    What a joke!

    I really didn’t care about this issue, but I’m starting to, not because I have a strong opinion of whether expanding the Y is right or wrong, but because I am getting sick and tired of howmthis town is run. Call it good ‘ol boy network, cronyism, and whatever name you want, but somehow some folks running this town think that THEY are the reason this town is a great place to live, rather than the people that they are supposed to serve.

    Mr. Persaud et al need to understand who they REALLY work for, and that their job is to present the facts, ALL the facts, and not manipulate them.

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  • July 19, 2012 at 1:53 pm
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    Thank you to everyone for taking notice of the substance and process of this proceeding. The more of that we get, the better our government will work.

    I am starting to believe that “not in my back yard” is the same as “I am the only one hurt enough by this proposal to read every document, go to every meeting, talk to the applicant (aka, YMCA), talk to P&Z, meet with council members, post in blogs, write letters of my position for the official record,…” It is hard to make time for these things and harder still if the topic does not seem to strongly benefit or harm you.

    If you need to label me, please do not make that label, “small minded”.

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  • July 19, 2012 at 5:25 pm
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    Cronyism is the right word to use when the Dallas Y director earns four times as much as other charities the same size as his. This slide is as phoney as the Rise school issue is to this development. Manipulative slide presentations, manipulative traffic studies, tax payer time and resources going to debunk the falsehoods. You have to ask yourself why this is happening if this is such a great development that has so much support.

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  • July 19, 2012 at 7:59 pm
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    Lets spend some more taxpayer money on a “study”

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  • July 19, 2012 at 9:56 pm
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    Yes, I thought it interesting that a house across from the Y “listed for close to 2.1 million was “active option contract” almost the day it was listed. Very nice house, but I was surprised. Hope they got a deep discount. I think that house was listed for sale a year ago (or a little more) for about 250k less (looks more updated). I wouldn’t want to live across from that construction. How long is it soposed to take?

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  • July 19, 2012 at 11:07 pm
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    Note that on the map showing all the green houses, the legend is incomplete. The map appears to hide the fact the houses marked in red (basically all of the properties adjoining the Y) are opposed. You have to look at other slides to figure that out.

    Also, see slide #9, labeled “Pulse of the Community”. Supposedly, 1,043 people signing letters or petitions were in favor and 69 were opposed. Anyone looking at the slide for more than a minute will realize two things: first, that of the 1,043 allegedly in favor, only 476 are in University Park. Who cares if non-UP residents are in favor? Second, the chart doesn’t tell us where the 69 opponents come from. Presumably, a handful of them are the immediate neighbors we know are opposed, but I wonder if Harry Persaud wanted to obscure the level of opposition in UP and deliberately left out that detail. That, combined with the incomplete legend on the “green dot” map (slide 10), makes this all very suspect.

    Remember when certain elements within HPPC (full disclosure: my church) shamefully tried to obfuscate their way into getting their city block sized parking lot approved? I’m tempted to say this YMCA thing reminds me of that, but at least the church didn’t have the city staff doing their work for them.

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  • July 19, 2012 at 11:30 pm
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    @studyplans, @PiperMan, @Scientific Method – Every property owner has a right to improve their property and it seems that over 60% of the neighbors on the East, West, North and South have done so since the added their last renovation in 1982. These homes also cover more than 50% of the lot size. Nancy Seay wrote recently that the Hoblitzelle’s gift of land was for children only because the deed states that the Y will always have youth programs. The deed never said adults could not use the Y and when the facility was constructed in 1950, there were women’s and men’s lounges for cards, meeting and fitness. Adult basketball games were play in Hodges Hall. Actual adult fitness began in the mid-sixties.
    If the east or west neighbors paid for a traffic study, no one has presented that study to the City or the YMCA for review as a counter to the Y’s study (must not have been done or it didn’t say what you guys wanted it to say). The east neighbors hired a traffic consultant to design an alternative entrance for the Y which pushed all cars to the Preston/Normandy intersection and would not allow any traffic to enter or exit the Y except from that entrance. This would create a private cul-de-sac for their neighborhood. The design was turned down by the City and the West Neighbors. The City is paying for a traffic study because the neighbors forced the City to do so because they did not like the assumptions the Y presented to their traffic consultant and did not like the East neighbors proposal.
    The West neighbor proposal was add an exit ramp to empty into a neighborhood and put more parking on the surface to continue the circular traffic flow instead of forcing members into the proposed underground parking.
    Property values have increased and homes are selling faster in the areas around SMU since the residential parking district was put in place. Home owners now have less crowded streets, can show there properties at any time on any day and traffic has decreased on their streets due to only residential parking. Presently, many neighbors around the Y can barely leave their own driveway without hitting another car whether it is a Y visitor or their own neighbor. Any possible purchaser of their homes can’t find a parking space in front of the house that is for sale. The City will give and then deliver all residents as many parking tags as they want and a simple call will allow a resident to have visitors without police giving tickets. How does this not make their property values increase?
    The Y is asking for an increase in the size of their property, which is their right, but unfortunately when many of the neighbors added on to their homes I doubt they did not contact the Y nor have I seen signs on Y property stating “Neighbor Home Too Big
    The Y is the Community Center for our community, so if the neighbors don’t like or want the Y to continue down that path, then make the City of UP build a Rec Center for the youth, adults and senior citizens of our City. Since the City has over $30 million in the bank it would be easy to sell bonds or raise our taxes to cover the expense. That way the neighbors around the Y would have to pay for the community center instead of having a 300 car community parking garage built at no cost to them to take traffic off their personal street. By the way, the East wanted their neighborhood made into a private cul-de-sac with their intersection proposal.
    What if the Y is turned down by City Council? I suspect the Y will decide to renovate the old building. This means the Y could gut the interior, remodel and increase the internal size of the adult fitness, active older adult area, aerobic fitness area, increase size of the preschool and leave the external areas alone. All of this can be done within their existing PD. They wouldn’t have to add any parking, help the First Unitarian Church with new parking spaces, make the Normandy intersection better and they wouldn’t need permission from one neighbor to do it. So, who wins? The Neighbors? I don’t think so, especially since our community will grow by an estimated 3,500 individuals by 2019.

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  • July 20, 2012 at 8:43 am
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    Park Cities Friend- The new traffic study is being ordered because the Mayor and Council members do not believe the Y figures are accurate. It is their decision alone to spend our money on it, because they think it is in the community’s best interest to get accurate numbers. Don’t try to diminish their role in that decision, (and thereby give yourself comfort), by saying the neighbors forced them to do so. We elected smart people who can sift through fact and propaganda and they smell a rat. Shame on the Y for making them have to dig for the truth. Also if the Y can renovate their existing building to the degree you say they can, then why don’t they just do that? Oh yeah, they want to be magnanimous and provide everyone with tons of free underground parking at $25,000 per space. Yeah right. Magnanimous.

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  • July 20, 2012 at 9:00 am
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    Citizen land ownership and property rights are a key part of our rights in the United States. Every state has its version of how this works and within municipalities there are even more variations. Compare and contrast Santa Fe, NM with Houston, TX. Different communities have different values, different zoning laws, different results. This is one example of where citizens can vote with their feet and look to live in a place that manages property zoning in a way that meets some combination of their preferences and means.

    Everyone has the right to request to make changes to their property. When the request is judged by city staff to fit with the zoning for that property, it is usually not a big deal to get permits and make it happen. When the change does not fit the zoning, then the person wanting to make a change has to ask the citizens. This is the process. The YMCA is not surprised by neighbors opening a work out facility (outside of residential zoning definitions) and neighbors are not surprised by the YMCA making the changes that are outside of their specially created, single property zone, written for them, approved by citizens, and in place at the time that nearly every home owner in UP bought their current home.

    This is probably not news to anyone, but the first part of Park Cities Friend’s note seemed to lose this underlying information. I am no great legal authority and this is a simplification of a pretty complicated area of the law, hopefully some help in seeing why there is a process for these things and why it is not a simple one.

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  • July 20, 2012 at 9:14 am
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    Regarding the “East and West traffic study” – that is misleading. There is only one traffic study that has been done and it was done at the direction and expense of the applicant, the Park Cities YMCA. West of Preston Neighbors hired a consultant from a company that does traffic studies to help understand how to read and interpret the published results of the YMCA traffic study. I have first-hand knowledge of this.

    For the East side, I do not have first-hand knowledge of their use of traffic experts. I did hear Mr. Bud Smallwood explain to the UP Town Council in the “pre-meeting” that the East had hired a traffic engineer firm to draw pictures of how Preston might be configured so that there could be a turn lane for making a left turn into the YMCA for a southbound traffic heading to the proposed garage entrance and that this is not a traffic study, just a drawing. The East neighbors also had some drawings made of different configurations for Normandy on the east side of Preston. These were not a traffic study.

    University Park Town Council made a motion and voted to approve a review of the YMCA traffic study. The nature of the review has been shown in a letter published by the Park Cities People online a few days ago. UP is not ordering a new traffic study at this time.

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  • July 20, 2012 at 11:00 am
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    Scientific Method- Why are the traffic study comments misleading? You just confirmed that the West of Preston Neighbors hired a consultant to review, interpret and comment on the Y traffic study and you also confirmed that the East Neighbors hired an engineer to redesign the entrance/intersection. So where are the comments misleading? Is it the comment concerning that the West didn’t like the East’s proposal or the East Neighbors creation of a cul-de-sac to better their property values more than the West?

    The West consultant’s review is not on the West of Preston Neighbors website or webpage. It has never been made public because the City or Y has not seen the report. Is the West of Preston Neighbors afraid to present the consultants comments? With all of the other anti-Y propaganda on the website why aren’t the comments from the consultant especially if they debunk the Y’s study.

    While the West of Preston Neighbors website also states surface parking was recommended to stay, the website does note that the traffic engineer recommended surface parking to save money. Build less parking underground and more on top. The Y choose more underground parking to stop the circle effect of cars on the neighborhood streets looking for a parking spot. The West of Preston Neighbors website also does not state the point in the report that the “level of service” (how traffic is analyzed) will be better or the same at all intersections if the proposed facility was to be built as proposed.

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  • July 20, 2012 at 1:03 pm
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    Park Cities Friend, Sorry for confusion on my comment. I was getting the impression that people thought there were multiple traffic studies, as in data collected, computer model configured, reports printed, opinion rendered kinds of things. Just wanted to distinguish that kind of sharable thing from the 3 or 4 conference calls some of the West neighbors had with a person that explained in general terms how to read the exhibits in the YMCA traffic study. There are some complicated exhibits showing counts of left turns, right turns, forward traffic along with abbreviations used by traffic engineers. There was no written explanation or summary or critique of the YMCA traffic study for the West neighbors to share. We are not holding that back from our web site.

    I missed the part of the publshed traffic study that explained why the traffic engineers recommended keeping the surface parking. I have read through it several times, but seem to have missed that. Can you tell me what page it was on or is that your input where you start with the “build less…” in your note?

    You are correct again about how West is not advertising the conclusions of the YMCA traffic study. The conclusion that traffic will be better is what we disagree with. We maintain that the information provided to the traffic engineers fell short of being a reasonable starting point for numbers of people (cars) coming and going from the proposed new facility. Findings and conclusions for making the big changes requested cannot be believed more than the information they started with.

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  • July 20, 2012 at 2:24 pm
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    The traffic engineer reported this information at either the second or third Planning and Zoning meeting when asked about the surface parking comment. The same information was given by Harry Persaud at the last P&Z meeting in his presentation after receiving a letter from the traffic engineer stating such. The Y originally planned for 276 parking spaces underground but after several community meetings, the Y changed the amount to 325 underground with none on the surface.

    The traffic study with supplements concluded that the level of service would not change even after he calculated the actual traffic and then added a growth factor for new facility, new employees, more students, and then added a 1.26 factor for seasonal increase. What other assumptions should be added to obtain a realistic number?

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  • July 20, 2012 at 5:13 pm
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    …and now you are all losing us. You two sure can write.

    @OMG, if that is true, that UP doesn’t trust the numbers that the Y presented, then why don’t they just DENY the request? Why in the heck would taxpayer money be spent on another study because they don’t trust the Y? Silly.

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  • July 20, 2012 at 11:21 pm
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    i love how people complain about how the town is run but never bother to vote – only about 300 people out of 8000+ households bothered to vote in May’s election.

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  • July 21, 2012 at 9:56 am
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    hata- Good point. How much taxpayer money would the council have saved if they had just denied each Legacy/Chase application right off the bat instead of letting it drag on and on. The burden should be on the applicant to pay for and prove all his points.

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  • July 25, 2012 at 4:55 pm
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    The YMCA was established WELL BEFORE the purchase of most of the homes by current neighbors. If they expected things to stay the same forever they are certainly naive. Trying to make their streets even more exclusive than they already are does not serve the greater community well. Actions taken in the past or proposed relative to closing or minimizing access and rights on public streets should be evaluated based on rights of all users – not just neighbors. Increased parking underground will be of a benefit and a compromise on surface parking is in order (parallel parking around Y).

    Existing restrictions on street closures or access anywhere near the Y should also be re-evaluated as long as they are looking at traffic issues. Move forward !!!!

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