"Mayor, I think that's a cop-out," director of Public Works Bill McTygue said at the meeting. McTygue sent a memorandum to his fellow commissioners and Keehn regarding open space property acquisitions earlier that day. Attached to the memo is a petition signed by 76 area residents who are opposed to the development. The council received the petition on May 1, McTygue said.
"Please be aware, I believe this is a reasonable request from this entire neighborhood and is consistent with the city's open space needs," McTygue wrote. "Preserving this side-hill property, in its current wooded state, is vitally important to the preservation of the entire Spring Valley from Warren Street to the similar hillside wooded areas just east of East Avenue."
McTygue said he is surprised by Keehn's lax approach to the situation. "I'm kind of surprised she hasn't advanced or advocated this purchase," he says. "She ran for office on open space issues. I would hope she does do something."
He also said the purchase shouldn't be seen as giving the city free rein in purchasing undeveloped plots of land. "I'm not going to pretend that it's the responsibility of the council to buy up every underdeveloped property in the city, but we have special case here. This plot of land should be preserved," he said. "It's important for all to understand small neighborhood open space parcels are just as important to preserving the special character of our city's neighborhoods as are the bigger parcels we have focused on in recent months."
Keehn, however, said the majority of the community would not benefit from the purchase of this particular parcel. She also said it wouldn't be wise to make such a purchase without guidelines from the Open Space Advisory Committee. The committee has draft criteria for the procurement of land, but has not yet finalized them. "I think we need to be very diligent, very thoughtful, and we need to go through the legal process of determining what an open space area is," she said.