I want to explain the rationale for my vote on the proposed Food Truck Park at Carnegie Park by Todd Franklin. My hat if is off to Mr. Franklin for coming up with a creative use for an area that is blighted, unsafe and a drain on our police force. Not only does the Food Truck Park potentially reclaim an abandoned area to be enjoyed again by our citizens, generate jobs and tax revenue, but also create a place that will attract people who don’t typically come to downtown.
Having said that, I want to point out that surrounding businesses expressed legitimate concerns about parking, noise, security, and the economic effects on their businesses. These business owners were dismayed that they had not been noticed by CSAC and included in earlier discussions so that their concerns could be addressed prior to the meeting last night. Because of these issues Councilmember Kristen Schreder proposed that we postpone the vote for one month to allow time to bring the affected business owners to the table and address their concerns. I agreed that this was a reasonable path forward, but the council voted 3-2 to pass the food truck park as it was currently proposed.
I know there is a great deal of passion on both sides of this subject. And to see so many people, many of them young, come out to speak about their love of downtown and take a stand on either side of this issue was very encouraging. My heart was to bring the sides together for discussions that could have moved this forward with less animosity, which is why I wanted to temporarily delay the decision. Although that did not happen, I hope that Mr. Franklin will go out of his way to work closely with nearby businesses, particularly Final Draft, which has an outside patio that faces the park. Ultimately, I am in favor of making the food truck park work. I want to see Carnegie Park full of people enjoying themselves and I want to see our downtown become the place to be. I just want to do so in a way that is responsible for public property and surrounding businesses, which is what I suspect we all want.