Imminent eminent

Imminent eminent
03/13/2006 Hoboken Reporter

Dear Editor:

Robert Moses Eminent domained his way through New York City, doing "good" as he saw it, but the view of history is that he was a destructive force killing "living" neighborhoods, and if only some of his work could be undone. Even the loss of one street, built over by the WTC, was severely missed, and with the Towers gone, the local people want it back.

The people who would use "eminent domain", what with it being the irrevocable tool that it is, really should pay attention to the history of its use. The lesson being that you are never as smart as you think that you are. You can be utterly blind to something that you have undervalued.

Of all the reasons, or "excuses" to use "eminent domain", I find the economic one to be the most ridiculous, the most heinous, the most criminal. It is probably initiated by someone with an extreme self interest, who doesn't live here, and never will, someone with the "it looks good from my house" attitude found in the construction business.

Their house being off in some suburb, and much grander for the profits. The "planners" never have the feel for an area that the people living there do. You need to experience it, and so if the neighborhood balks, that is a huge red flag declaring that you have missed something significant. If an area is truly blighted, a mere economic incentive should be enough to get everyone on board with the plan. However, if it is merely not "living up to its potential", then let it be! Even the fallow field has great value. Any parent, and any grown child, can tell you that judging potential is a hazardous undertaking, as destructive as it is good intentioned.

Eminent Domain was for critical necessity, not for casual tweaks. The Supreme Court had no sufficient basis to rule against its economic use, but suggested that the legislature should. The public record is rife with the screw ups of city planners and zoning boards, never called to account for their errors, for if they paid attention to the history, they'd have almost nothing to plan or zone. If the people protest, then don't do it.

Fritz Haas

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