Friday, October 29, 2004

NIMBYs on Parade

Vocal Crowd Turns Out to Talk Baseball

Sarah Sloan of Southeast became outraged by the pace. "This is an incredibly undemocratic process," said Sloan, eating a sandwich while waiting for her turn as No. 172 on the list of speakers. "The politicians are afraid to hear from the people, because they know people are opposed to the deal."

At one point, several students from Eastern Senior High School pleaded to move up in the order because they were late for football practice and other activities.

"You always say children first, but I get the feeling the baseball stadium is more important than children," said Toney Stover, one of the students. "Whatever millions you spend on the team, why can't you match that and give it to recreation centers and after-school programs and books?"

In fact, the mayor proposed just such an idea Wednesday: a community investment fund worth up to $400 million that would be funded through a portion of taxes on businesses near the new stadium. The plan has received mixed reviews.

Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp (D), who has generally been supportive of the stadium plan, told the crowd that "the money spent on a stadium does not exist for any other program."

A council committee will mark up the stadium legislation Wednesday, and the full council is to take the first vote Nov. 9.