Susan Mayall, Livermore
Recently you published a letter from Doug Horner, retired architect, and past member of Livermore City Council. His letter reflected my own disappointment with the development of the old Lucky’s site and the continued lack of attention by recent city councils to the wishes of much of the population.
In 1980, just before opening Goodenough Books, I took part in a city ‘walk around’ study of Livermore’s downtown, followed by group discussions in which we all suggested ideas for development. It took 25 years for any of these to be achieved.
Once Hwy 84 was rerouted, the sidewalks on First Street could become a narrower, shaded place, with wide sidewalks suitable for outdoor dining. The street is now filled with restaurants and downtown is a vibrant, attractive place.
It still lacks the small, interesting boutique style stores found in many small cities. There is little that would attract tourist traffic. The ground floors of the buildings in Veteran’s Park would have been perfect for this sort of retail - gift shops, kitchen stores, bookstores.
And we still lack a real park downtown, a comfortable place to relax after shopping or eating, a place to sit and chat.
I believe the decision to bring housing into the park was made in haste, for convenience, and without attention to detail, with no vision for what Livermore could be. What other city places tall, bulky housing in the last remaining space for a needed downtown park? Why does Eden Housing seem to have the last word on the size and design of the buildings? Doug comments on the ground floor bedroom windows facing directly onto the pathways - symptomatic of the poor quality of the design. Before the next council elections, we should think seriously about our housing problems, our traffic, and how to balance our city needs against the preservation of the wonderful open spaces around us. Who is considering walking streets, shuttle bus service and high rises with ground floor facilities, stores, playgrounds and gardens? What about zoning and its effects, and how to work towards a more varied and equitable society?
These are the questions that bother me. The park, the housing may be built as planned now and it will undoubtedly look better than the parking lot it was before. But what an opportunity will have been missed.