Signs posted in the University Heights neighborhood. (Photo by Shannon Cay)


by Sheila Dunbar, Springfield

Most of us remember learning about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs from Psych 1 in high school or college. The very bottom of the pyramid deals with the basic needs of humans, which include food, clothing, shelter, air, water, sleep and reproduction.

Shelter and security are what are now being attacked for many residents in our city.

I know the value of providing a safe home as a military spouse and former military brat. My husband and I worked diligently to provide a secure landing pad for our daughters, even while moving every two to three years. We have been homeowners in four states, and bought and/or sold nine properties.

We bought our beautiful Bissman stone home three years ago, enchanted by the peaceful University Heights neighborhood within the center of the city and with the history of the area. Our neighborhood is filled with homes of all types — two-bedroom cottages that need some TLC selling below $200,000 to gorgeous mini-mansions worth close to 1 million. We love and appreciate the mix of homes and the fact that generations of families own homes in the same neighborhood.

Some people don’t care to live in central Springfield, citing traffic noise and crime. If you actually drive into our neighborhood you will realize an almost immediate escape into our tree-lined haven. Also, having lived on or in close proximity to Air Force fighter bases, this surrounding noise is nothing compared to the noise of F-16 fighter jets leaving on a training mission at 2 in the morning and serenading you as they fly over your housing area!

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One of the owners of BK&M shrugged his shoulders and said something to the effect that it was our choice to live here, and that we should have expected encroaching development. We have also heard several comments about people not wanting to live in the city. Are we to surmise and believe that we “deserve” to have our lives disrupted, our property values to decrease, crime to increase and road-rage drivers to fly down our streets because of our choice? Aren’t we allowed to expect respect and fair representation as homeowners and taxpayers? Don’t the wishes and tax dollars of hundreds of homeowners count at least as much as the tax dollars of a small company?

BK&M also made choices — they chose to buy property that was zoned residential, gambled on it being rezoned to commercial, demolished and therefore devalued this very property, demolished a historic city landmark, and egotistically pushed their agenda despite concerns and protests of their neighboring homeowners. Are we supposed to shrug our shoulders and callously tell them that well, you made the choice to invest so you will live with the consequences and we don’t really care if you lose $3 million?

My neighborhood of homeowners and reliable taxpayers and voters is under attack. Our basic needs of shelter and security are being undermined.