For some time now a few citizens of Frankfort have joined the Frankfort Plant Board in maligning residents of Tanglewood, where I live, over the reservoir controversy.
They say we are elitists, wealthy, uppity and care only about ourselves and nothing for our community and fellow citizens. We’ve also been accused of holding Frankfort hostage and getting in the way of a new home for the Humane Society. Oh, and if we didn’t like the reservoir in our neighborhood, then we shouldn’t have moved here in the first place. These tactics are popular today. Shame your opponent into silence.
And what did we do to deserve this? We spoke up. We voiced our objection to something we saw as objectionable. We did something we all are entitled to do, including those who now hate us. And they would do the same thing if it happened to them.
When I moved to the Tanglewood neighborhood in 1986, I bought a home valued at less than $100,000. Hardly elitist, even then. Today you can find a good mix of homes here from modestly priced to admittedly elite. We represent the broad spectrum that you find all over Frankfort, but Tanglewood should by no means be considered exclusive. There are no gates.
In 1986, the reservoir was, as it is today, hardly noticeable because of the earthen berm that hides it. The headend was later tucked in under the antenna tower and was nothing more than a shed. You hardly noticed it. Citizens rented the cabin-like clubhouse for all sorts of family and political events and we would see children playing on the grounds. I saw it as more of a park than a reservoir.
Then, about four years ago, the FPB quietly began to turn that city-owned park-like property into an industrial park with the barest of notification to the city or the Tanglewood residents — in order to build a new two-story, 5,000-plus-square-foot, $6 million-plus headend building, plus an attached parking structure for about a dozen or so vehicles within 20-30 feet of residents. They mortgaged the property, which they did not own. All of this was for a cable business in seriously declining demand.
In addition, they installed tall parking lot lights to leave on all night and turned the parking lot into a place to park their large bucket trucks. Gone was the park-like atmosphere and now we had an industrial site in our midst.
So, Tanglewood objected to the city commission, which agreed with the neighborhood about the intrusion and ordered FPB to submit any further construction plans to the Frankfort/Franklin County Planning Commission for approval.
Then, FPB wanted to build a monstrous 7-million-gallon reservoir to replace two current reservoirs and leave space for a second 7-million-gallon reservoir whenever it deems necessary. Each reservoir would be nearly 22 feet taller than the current reservoir topped with a domed roof. The existing earthen berm would only be partially in place, causing nearly 47 feet of concrete wall and domed roof to be visible to the Frankfort community.
At first, Tanglewood wanted the reservoir moved. FPB said that was too expensive. So, we proposed two 4.5-million-gallon tanks (same as we have now) capable of meeting the city’s water needs for the next century. FPB said that was $3 million more than one 7-million-gallon tank. Of course it is! It has more capacity.
Of course, FPB could build the second 7-million-gallon tank, which its representatives don’t talk about because they’d have to talk about the cost and their “$3 million more” argument would be over. And make no mistake, in matters like this, it’s what they don’t talk about that you have to watch out for. FPB is not talking about the second tank, the cost and when.
So, after the city said “no” to FPB, it goes to the planning commission, which says “no” too. Then FPB goes to court and the court says “no,” as well. And now it threatens further legal action. FPB hears “no” three times and Tanglewood gets accused of dragging this out and holding the city hostage! FPB refuses to answer to a higher authority because, it seems, it doesn’t believe there is a higher authority.
Recently, the FPB board was presented with a compromise proposal by two of its members and the other three rejected it, saying Tanglewood and the city had already rejected it. That is untrue. We had only heard rumors of such a compromise, which sounded promising, and we wanted to hear more, but we didn’t get a chance.
Most Tanglewood residents, if not all, love this neighborhood. Others who don’t live here have also told us how much they love it too. We believe Tanglewood’s charm is just as much a part of Frankfort as any other neighborhood and we don’t want to let that be destroyed. It has taken a long time for Tanglewood to develop its character, thanks to those who came before us. It is our responsibility to see that those who reside here in the future aren’t denied what we now have.
We don’t deny the city needs a new reservoir. That has never been our objection. And we’re tired of this dragging on too. After all, we’re living this while everyone else just reads about it. We just ask why the FPB put its new $16 million-plus administration building ahead of the reservoir? Not to mention, the $6 million-plus headend building? Is FPB really concerned about the ratepayers or just about getting its way?
Glenn Goldstein is a retired advertising executive who has lived in Frankfort for nearly 40 years. He is also vice president of the Tanglewood Neighborhood Association. He can be reached at email@example.com.