CHRISTOPHER STIEBER: An open letter to Parkview Hospital about Slocum Pointe

Every few years or so during my father’s time as Director of Internal Auditing for Parkview Hospital, he would have to enlighten a fresh crop of young finance graduates touting brand-spanking-new MBAs, a briefcase full of theoretical bright ideas and an abysmal lack of real-world common sense: “Go sharpen your pencils boys,” he would tell them.

I have a very good idea what George Stieber would think of Parkview’s idea to relinquish its Lougheed Center to a for-profit realty handler, Keller Development, masquerading as a big-hearted, non-profit community-betterment project–Brightpoint, Inc. He’d be torn. He loved working for Parkview.

I’m not speaking for my dad. But when we spoke to each other, this is the kind of thing we talked about: Bureaucratic arrogance –public or private but most often, as in this case, an admixture of both– and its abrogation of the ability of hard-working, average people to determine their own future. Some rosy-intentioned credentialed clerk somewhere had very specific plans for this guy’s future months and years before the poor schmuck got the first clue of it all.

This is precisely what has happened to the residents of Frances Slocum. They were given little to no notice of this folly. They were blindsided.

And it is nothing but folly. I don’t need to bring up Cabrini Green in Chicago or Pruitt-Igoe in St. Louis or every single Section-8 chimera of the last fifty years. (These statistics are readily available from the archived FBI crime report statistics, cross-indexed with 9-digit zip codes.) I just need to direct you to any patrolman in the Fort Wayne Northeast Office on State Boulevard and his evaluation of the State and Hobson situation since the city relocated the residents of Eden Green to Baldwin Creek.

Now I don’t own property in Frances Slocum. But the most important person in my life, Lisa Jackson, does. She has lived here for 30 years and owned the Bagel Station for just as long. It was weeks after the Eden Green resettlement that the serial break-ins at her restaurant began. It was just over six months before she had a gun pointed at her face.

This is the sort of experience that commissioned academic studies purporting anemic crime uptick and unaffected property-values withers under. But, of course, the studies themselves are jargon-saturated, agenda-driven folderol. I’ve been in academe my entire life. Don’t get me started, really.

This project is going to gut what’s left of this area, already reeling from Parkview’s trek to the north. I’m asking that you go back to the drawing board on this thing. At the very least, I implore you to meet with some of the residents of Frances Slocum. I can put you directly in touch with the best people in this neighborhood.

Because as this project stands now — and the rationale behind it — it is pure “you-know-what.” My father was so good at detecting “you-know-what” (I got away with very little as a kid) that he could find it on a spreadsheet. I inherited that from him, though in a different field.

I have a little time at the moment. But, I assure you, I have things to do, things more important to me than tracking down the intricacies of this lousy deal and trying to take a loud, public bite out of Parkview’s well-earned goodwill. (I’m sure your cardiologists, headed by Dr. Genetos, added 20 years to my mother’s life. I am genuinely, eternally grateful to Parkview as an institution.)

I don’t have Parkview’s clout. I’m only one person. But I’m better at this than any three people in your communications department and any five people at whatever firm is presently doing your PR. I’m just about as good at what I do as my father was at his job.

And so the yard signs in the neighborhood (“What Is Parkview Thinking?”) increase in number. The Monday night 6 p.m. meeting at Lion’s Park grows larger.

At that meeting they discuss the clear and present craven display of circular unaccountability among all the players: Their Neighborhood Association, their 2nd District City Councilman Russ Jehl, Keller Development, Brightpoint, Inc., and, of course, Parkview.

The neighborhood hasn’t been this close-knit in decades.

They’d thank you, but they’re too busy cursing you: “No Slocum Pointe!”

You really should go sharpen your pencils.

Christopher Stieber is a resident of Fort Wayne

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