Lyons: Town Faces Policy Decision re Replacement Housing

The Lyons Board of Trustees announced a plan last month to build 60 housing units for residents whose homes were destroyed by the flood. Now the Trustees are up against a December deadline for grant proposals but are getting flak from residents.

Trustees are discussing three sites for the new units, including the 29-acre Bohn Park, the 10-acre Lyons Dog Park and a private property east of Lyons Valley Park. Anyone familiar with Lyons knows the town is constrained by geography and size, with few building sites. The Board feels these three locations are the most feasible given the time and financial constraints of the project.

But some Lyons residents are not willing to give up public land for replacement housing. A group calling itself “Save Our Parks and Open Space” (SOPOS) opposes the use of parks and open space for new housing. The question is, if not one of these properties, then where? Using either park would require approval from other entities; such land use reclassification is possible albeit difficult.

However SOPOS is not waiting to see what happens. The group submitted a petition with 193 signatures asking Lyons to allow citizens to vote on zoning changes or permitting of parks and open space even on leased portions of Bohn Park and the dog park.

The Town will now conduct a site analysis on the locations to identify the cost of building on each parcel. This analysis won’t be finished until Nov. 20, leaving the Town less than a month to choose a location and develop a design before the application deadline for Community Development Block Grants for Disaster Recovery in mid-December.

The trustees say they will pick a site and apply for a grant contingent upon voter approval of their plans. Note: The flood of 2013 hit Lyons particularly hard. Many lower and middle class residents are still in temporary housing. One wonders if members of SOPOS would have the same position if their homes had been destroyed in the flood. The catastrophic nature of the flood requires flexibility and should generate empathy but those qualities appear to be in short supply.

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