LETTER: Barbara Hoppe is not a 'trail-killer'

Wednesday, March 25, 2009 | 12:27 p.m. CDT

Barbara Hoppe is still trying very hard to find a good, safe alternative to the GetAbout plan to link the Shepard area to East Campus and has spent hours she does not have to do this. She expressed that she would love to ride her bike to work and wants a safe, practical route.

The neighborhood collectively was actually not opposed to the original plan. The proposed plan looked good on paper, but after evaluating the plan and walking the route we realized it would be an ecological and topographical disaster that would have wasted hard-earned taxpayer dollars that could be put to much better use.

Barbara attended official neighborhood association meetings in the "trail" vicinity and listened, because this is what she was supposed to do. She walked the proposed trail many times, evaluating it and trying to get adjustments that might meet the various concerns.

Barbara purposely stayed away from our private meetings against the entire proposed Hinkson Trail GetAbout plan. We went to the other council members on our own to plead our cases. Barbara did advocate taking off the "Bluff Dale Connector" part of the plan because of valid concerns presented by constituents of the Sixth Ward.

The council did not mysteriously table the plan, but voted after hearing six hours of testimony and debate from both sides of the issue. See the 45 pages of minutes for the council meeting that dealt only with the GetAbout issue on July 22, 2008.

The council voted 6-1 against this plan. It was the other council members who started the discussion against it. Barbara spoke up when Mayor Darwin Hindman became concerned over their objections to the plan. Ultimately the majority of the council saw it as a waste of the funds, damaging to a pristine environment, and dangerous due to the natural topography of the area.

Actually, Barbara's neighbors were concerned that Barbara would vote for the trail because of 1) her love of biking and 2) her commitment to fairly represent the desires of all of her constituents. She knew many people both in our neighborhood and the Shepard Neighborhood and East Campus who wanted a good east-west connection, as did she. Some of the council members were not even aware Barbara lived in the area because she refused to allow herself to be solely swayed by her neighbors.

Jerry Wade and Paul Sturtz were concerned about the environmental destruction. Laura Nauser, Karl Skala, and Chris Janku were concerned that other more popular plans were a wiser use of the funds. Barbara wisely thought it best to step back from the GetAbout proposal to work on a better alternative that will serve as an east-west connector, but without the downsides of the plan presented. She has been working with Sixth Ward residents since last fall for a better east-west connector.

Barbara is great for the Sixth Ward and Columbia because she does listen to the pros and cons of each issue and her vote represents the wishes and welfare of her constituents as a whole. She is a tireless worker who cares passionately about the future of Columbia and is committed to getting a solution that works best for everyone.

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