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Community Meeting Over Upper Valley Street Causes Conflict

An Upper Valley community meeting got contentious Thursday evening over proposed improvements on River Bend Drive.

City representative Cortney Niland said the meeting was meant to be a forum for people to discuss funding options for proposed beautification and improvement projects on River Bend.

“It’s my job to tell you what we can do and we can’t do,” Niland told a room full of residents.

However, some of those residents traded heated words with Niland at some points, accusing her of not listening to them.

“I’m just trying to give you options to help you,” said Niland.

One man at the meeting said the reason for the tense mood came down to certain e-mails circulated among neighbors before the meeting. The e-mails did not come from the city but implied city leaders wanted River Bend to qualify for federal transportation funds by getting rid of a connecting park, instead turning that park into a street that would eventually lead to the freeway. However, that plan had already been challenged and struck down by neighborhood residents years ago.

“That e-mail is what got everybody all worked up, and so everybody came here ready to do battle,” said the attendee.

Niland said it’s not the city’s intention to rehash past plans that were unpopular with residents. She said it is merely calling for the community’s input to draw up a set of options. She said it could be several weeks before official proposals are presented, and it could be several months or even years before one of the proposals is adopted, funded and completed.

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