Monday, August 09, 2004

Other uses for 165 acres

Also published in the Grand Rapids Press editorials page, Aug 9, 2004

Dear Public Pulse:

Thanks to Fred Meijer for his offer to provide land for a new zoo. It was an extremely generous act. We should all be grateful for the many wonderful things Fred and Lena Meijer have done for our hometown. Of course there are a million things someone could do with 165 acres of land, and now that the ballot measure has failed and the new zoo has been shelved, I'm sure Mr. Meijer is getting an earfull. I would like to strongly encourage that this acreage not be turned into yet another subdivision. We don't need more urban sprawl. We need a lot of things in our community, but increasing sprawl, traffic and pollution is not the answer. I have two suggestions. First, a light rail transit station. Think of the benefit of having a light rail line with a stop right in the parking lot of the Meijer store at Knapp's Corner, that could connect to the Gardens, Calvin College and all of the businesses on the Beltline, 28th Street, 44th Street and the airport. Second, I wonder if the Meijers have ever thought of going into the energy business? 165 acres would certainly be adequate to build enough solar and wind generators to power a large section of the city. We already buy our food from Meijer, why not our electricity? Our troops are fighting a war over control of the world's oil supply. We must encourage our community's leaders, especially those creative entrepeneurial visionaries like Mr. Meijer, to pick up the challenge of alternative transportation and energy and become part of the solution to this horrible war.

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