How quickly we've forgotten that the land on which Mellon Arena sits was forcibly taken from the people of the Hill District. Decisions about its future should not rest with the mayor, county executive, the Sports & Exhibition Authority or the Penguins. They are the provenance of the Hill community. Our politicians' recent pre-emptive judgment refuses to acknowledge our government's role in an unjust urban renewal failure ("Ravenstahl: Mellon Arena Must Come Down for Redevelopment," April 12 Web).
The community deserves the opportunity to weigh the economic and social benefits of various development scenarios. Is the adaptive reuse of the Igloo, set within a great civic park, viable? Are leaders aware that visitors to Chicago's Millennium Park will spend an estimated $2 billion over 10 years? How will a traditional street grid of residential and commercial development affect investment needs throughout the rest of the Hill? To whom will the proposed new neighborhood truly belong?
In a broader context, what makes for good land-use policy in a shrinking city that can't stop decay throughout countless neighborhoods? Do several blocks of new housing and commercial space - and the necessary infrastructure - make sense in light of the existing abundance of blight and vacancy?
Educated decisions can only be made following a genuine community process. No development will right the wrongs of the past, or undo the devastation of urban renewal. If our city government is to distinguish itself from its predecessors, it will foster an honest and informed dialogue that will enable Hill residents to choose their own path forward.