I wasn't able to be a the neighborhood meeting, but I'm sorry if anyone on either side of this debate felt disrespected. Most of us at Lourdes are guided by our Christian wish to treat others with kindness and consideration. As I read through these comments, the general sense I have on both sides is one of entrenchment, and that is not going to move us forward in the debate. OLLourdes is not going to go away, nor is its need for more and better parking. The neighbors and their wish for a safer, more pedestrian friendly and attractive living area are also not going to leave. I don't know what the ultimate results of this discussion will be, but I'd like to think we can try to stand in each other's shoes and withhold name-calling and stone throwing and belittlement--which is only going to undermine any possibility for compromise.
Through the Looking Glass, if you had ever attended Lourdes, you would realize what a special and unique Catholic Church it is. If I lived in Newnan, I would drive to Lourdes, and I believe we have parishioners who do drive that far. The openness, the vibrancy of the community, the music, the intense spiritual commitment of its members (intense enough to bring them from all corners of the city and state) have been the reason our church is now bursting out of the seams. Surely, our wish to have a decent sized parking lot that is well-designed and that services both the church and the area businesses is not such an unreasonable one. The longevity and historic significance of the church (having been in the neighborhood for a century and having been the ONLY Catholic church for the diocese back then to serve committed black Catholics) seems to me to warrant more than dismissive and snarky comments. It'd be a different story if we were trying to move into the area from elsewhere and take over the community, but as many have mentioned above, Lourdes has been in the Old Fourth Ward in and through its heyday and its blight. I suspect most of those opposed have invested shorter than a tenth of the hundred years of our residence in the Old Fourth Ward. We at least deserve respect and consideration.
Thanks to Creative Loafing for bringing this issue to light. I'm a member of Our Lady of Lourdes, and supportive of the parking lot purchase, though I do understand why community members would have concerns. The vacant lot is currently a blight to the area, and (as others mention) Lourdes intends both to share the lot with local businesses and build the lot with landscaping and natural borders so that it would tastefully blend in and actually contribute to the usability and aesthetics of the area. As Auburn attracts more and varied businesses, the need for ample parking is going to only increase, and our church, invested as it is in the history and integrity of the neighborhood, will prove both a leader and a sensitive player in the area's development.
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