Today’s Guest Post Wednesday was written by a fellow small-town Kentucky transplant. Barb is a grandmother to three, mother to two, and a retired nurse who graciously agreed to write about a recent community “moment” in her neighborhood. I had heard her story unfold over a series of weeks during our church’s women’s reading group, and I knew it’d make a great Schmexas guest blog post. Enjoy!
A major grocery store decided to build a megamarket in our town, near where I live. This was exciting news; however, they wanted to make one entry into the mega complex by opening a dead-end street in our neighborhood to provide access. The land for this access road had originally been zoned residential and was changed to commercial. You can imagine that this decision was met with great disapproval from the residents for a number of reasons:
1) It could generate as much as 1,000 cars per day in our neighborhood.
2) The safety of our children was at stake. They rode bikes, skate boards, etc., and played ball on the street.
3) Strangers would be going through our neighborhood, which also could be a potential danger to our children.
4) Property values could be jeopardized due to the increased traffic.
5) The roads were not built to handle this volume of traffic, and people parked their vehicles on the street which could be a potential hazard if an emergency vehicle needed to get through.
6) The homes were built four years ago, and people knew additional residential homes might be built, making it necessary to open the dead-end street. Now, it was not to be residential, but a high-volume commercial site.
What could we do?
A few of us began attending the city council meeting and discovered the planning commission of the county was in charge of making the decision concerning the road, so we began attending these meetings, too. We voiced our concerns, asking them not to open this road. It really was not necessary, as there would be three entrances off major arteries. However, they passed the opening of our street by a vote of 4 to 3. We were very discouraged and angry. We were told it was a “done deal.”
About three weeks later, a reporter from our local paper called me to tell me there was a snag in the plans. There were two small parcels of land that the city did not own due to a bond that had been bought to generate money for the city some years ago. Their plans were to purchase this back so the plans could progress. This was amazing news. I decided to write a petition, get the neighborhood to sign it, and encourage the residents to attend the city council meeting where it would be discussed. It was important we show the council how many residents were upset. I also contacted two members of the council by telephone and found they were sympathetic to our cause. This was a great encouragement for me. Three of us visited every home in our neighborhood and we had 114 signatures. In addition, a significant number of people attended the meeting.
The two council members I had talked with on the phone had done work on the issue prior to the meeting and were great advocates for our cause. They proposed making a bike/pedestrian entrance instead of a vehicular entrance, and it passed unanimously.
I am reminded of the Easter story of the two Marys going to Jesus’ tomb early in the morning to anoint his body with spices, wondering how they would ever be able to move the large stone from the entrance. When they arrived it was moved. God had moved the stone! They were amazed. I believe our God is a God of justice, and I see this issue as a matter of justice. He was present and moved our stone through the power of prayer and effort on our part. We were also amazed and in awe of our loving God. It is my hope that when I face “stones” in my life I will remember this event and be able to put my trust in my God to provide the answers I will need.
Every Wednesday, Texas Schmexas features a guest post about community in all of its myriad forms. If you’re willing to share a story or meditation (or complaint!) about community with the readers of Texas Schmexas, please let me know. Click on “Guest Posts” for more information.