October 7, 2012

Our View: Downtown still needs housing

— Opponents showed up in force last month as the Logansport Board of Zoning Appeals rejected a proposed senior housing project on the current site of the farmers market.

Some were surrounding business owners concerned about potential parking issues. Others were worried about the farmers market losing its spot.

And still others were concerned about the loss of a community gathering place for events such as Celebrate Logansport and the Taste of Cass County. Some liked the small park next to the lot, and they hated to disrupt the park board’s vision for what would effectively be an expansion of Little Turtle Waterway Plaza.

It’s possible some of those issues could have been worked out. Park officials had indicated a willingness to revise their plans.

Perhaps the developers could have found a way to add more parking.

The problem, in the end, was a lack of time. The developers were up against a deadline to apply for tax credits that would make the project feasible. Even a delay in the BZA’s approval would have effectively derailed the project for at least a year.

Our hope is that last week’s meeting won’t be the end of the discussion.

Logansport officials for years have been working to bring more residents downtown. A 44-unit senior housing complex would have given a big boost to that effort.

Some have suggested that there might be better places downtown to build such a structure. Others have encouraged developers to consider rehabilitating an existing building.

We’d like to see city officials and developers come back with a new plan.

It might also help if the various parties avoid cutting the schedule so close next time around.

We understand that developers can’t get everyone involved in a project on the ground floor. Various details clearly need to be worked out before taking a project public.

Still, the public discussion ought to begin as early as possible. If nothing else, a project’s backers need to find out where the opposition lies, so that they can address the critics and perhaps find answers to their complaints.

That sort of process takes months, not days or weeks. It’s not too early to begin work on an alternate plan.

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