Fundamental land use issue 

Mr. Hoppe’s expressed need for appealing architecture (Hoppe, “Downtown Development,” Nov. 26-Dec. 3) is well-taken, but design shouldn’t control the underlying land use issue. The question is: What would be the best use of this publicly-owned land for the community? When that question is answered, design issues for the site and building would then be pertinent.  

Ironically, the state’s War Memorial Commission has proposed a new USS Indianapolis submarine memorial on the canal next to the existing USS Indianapolis battleship memorial at Walnut Street. We are also seeking to facilitate a community conversation on that proposed use of the only other remaining spot of open space on the canal. Should that city-owned land be left as open space? If not, would a large submarine hull and its vertical sail be appropriate for the setting? The community should be asked to provide its views.   

Mr. Hoppe suggests that we have inappropriately framed the issue as a battle (between greenspace and development). Of course it’s a battle. The pro-building forces are squarely opposed to a public park, and they hold much sway in the halls and back rooms of political power. Our Case Statement (at fully describes our 26-point pro-park rationale, yet the pro-development commercial interests have not publicly described their rationale for developing the site.

While the rate of development is not always to the satisfaction of some avid urbanists and architecture advocates, downtown density is increasing. Surface parking lots are rapidly being acquired by developers who have plans to build.  Many projects are under construction. The sorry current state of our poorly-supervised economy will slow this progression, but development interest in the area is generally high.  

Last year, Canal Park Advocates saved the taxpayers $2 million by publicly challenging a boondoggle elevator/waterfall structure on the canal south of Ohio Street. The city staunchly defended the project up until the last possible moment — to just before the MDC’s public hearing when it withdrew the proposal. That was another arduous lesson in how the “Perpetual Power and Growth Machine” usually circles the wagons and clings to the political party-line even when challenged by compelling facts.  

Clarke Kahlo
Canal Park Advocates

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