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It’s past time city reopens Dana Street

We still are scratching our heads at why a public thoroughfare on Warren’s northeast side has remained closed to traffic since 2016, reportedly so a business owner in the neighborhood can continue renovations on an industrial building there.

Last week, council approved a request by the owner, Christopher Alan, for another three-month extension. We weren’t surprised by council’s approval, especially given that Alan now is providing a description of the progress he’s made at the building.

After nearly four years, should we expect anything less than progress? We wonder why work wasn’t complete long before now.

Readers may be surprised to know these three paragraphs first appeared in this space in June 2020.

Yet, once again, they ring true.

City council voted 7-3 last month to continue for another 90 days the inconvenient closure of Dana Street.

The street has been blocked from near the corner of North Park Avenue to Paige Avenue NE for several years now, at Alan’s request. He is the business owner who is developing what eventually will be the headquarters, manufacturing and test facility of Auto Parkit, which builds automated parking systems.

Alan, founder of the Los Angeles-based company, announced in 2015 he wanted to move the company’s headquarters, manufacturing and testing facilities to his hometown.

When he made the initial announcement about opening facilities in Warren, Alan projected the company would create between 250 and 300 jobs in Warren over the course of the next three years.

He told our reporter recently he estimates employment here at less than 100. To be fair, some workers may have been furloughed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is doubtful his payroll ever approached the goals he expressed more than five years ago.

Councilman Greg Greathouse, chairman of council’s traffic committee, most recently called for the extension of the street closure. Because it’s considered a “temporary” road closure, it can be closed for no more than 90 days at a time, but it can be extended — which it has been multiple times since the road was first closed.

In calling for the extended road closure, Greathouse did provide a lengthy list of completed renovations or other work that is in the process.

Good. We are glad to see the councilman offering evidence to back his request.

But, as we argued here last year, after so much time, shouldn’t we expect progress?

Absolutely, we always are on the side of growth and economic development. We are fully aware Alan has taken over vacant structures and invested millions of dollars in our city. We understand the potential jobs this project brings to our area.

But we also believe businesses must be able to grow and develop without inconveniencing their neighbors over the long term.

If, indeed, the building’s developer fears vandalism, as he has stated, we think it is time he consider hiring private security.

There have been complaints of illegal dumping in the area, and residents have said the closure has triggered an increase of car, truck and tractor-trailer traffic traveling on nearby residential streets. Businesses also have complained the closure is impacting their customers negatively.

On behalf of all the residents, motorists and others who have been inconvenienced by the “temporary” closure for all these years, council must stop this ridiculous blockade and reopen the street.

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