Parkview North is deserting the eastern side of the city for the northeast DuPont area of Allen County. The project, which is to begin in a couple of months, has been in the works for almost five years and, no big surprise, received the approval of the Allen County Plan Commission and the Board of Zoning Appeals.
A number of years ago, Lutheran packed up and moved to the southwest area of Allen County, leaving only St. Joe Hospital to truly serve the urban core. St. Joe has remained faithful to the City, remaining at its current location and expanding to provide even more services to those still living in the center of the city.
Parkview has simply joined a long line of businesses and individuals who have decided to flee the City, and, in the process, widen the doughnut hole – better known as urban sprawl. With no mandatory regulations to prohibit the moves outward, our city will continue to be pulled apart.
We discuss sprawl constantly, but on one wants to take the necessary steps to curb it because of the politics of doing so. A successful restoration of the urban core – businesses, neighborhoods, etc. – must be complemented by restrictions on subdivision expansion. But restricting subdivisions requires going toe-to-toe with real estate companies, land developers, construction companies, and financial institutions. A pretty tall order that most boards and commissions lack the guts to undertake.
Residents of sprawling neighborhoods tend to emit more pollution per person and suffer more traffic fatalities. Sprawl is also linked with increased obesity since walking and bicycling are not viable commuting options. Areas of urban sprawl are characterized as highly dependent on automobiles for transportation, a condition known as automobile dependency.
Most activities, including shopping, commuting to work, and entertainment, require the use of a car as a result of both the area’s isolation from the city and the isolation the area’s residential zones have from its industrial and commercial zones.
Walking and other methods of transit are not practical. While many of Allen County’s subdivisions have sidewalks, they serve primarily as walkways for mail persons. In many suburban communities, even stores and activities that are close by are contrived to be much further, by separating uses with fences, walls, and drainage ditches.
Until commissions and boards find the courage to challenge the forces that create sprawl, we will continue to see the city pulled apart by the sprawl that continues to affect the restoration of our City’s heart.
The Google Earth map above reflects the sprawl creeping outward to the Allen and Whitley County line to the west of Fort Wayne.