Among the many odd aspects of City Council remarks on the South Avenue Gateway development proposal, some members commented on prospective tenants as having "alternative lifestyles" and maybe being gay.
As happens often lately, notions pop up that make one think there had been a meeting before the public meeting to frame arguments on issues by using words or phrases designed to provoke a reaction. Often these references are based on perceived class or racial distinctions, as in the frequent coded allusions to the Second Ward.
So what is the point of saying one has heard that the proposed apartments might be occupied by people with "alternative lifestyles"? Definitions of that term refer to "living outside the cultural norm" or being "socially unconventional." Are speakers saying there is only one accepted mode of behavior citywide that these newcomers might disrupt?
If there is one thing that distinguishes Plainfield from its neighboring towns, it is diversity. People say they have chosen to live here just for the mix of cultures and the freedom to be oneself.
The hint that the new apartments might attract gays is really a kicker. During the 1980s, gays who were attracted to Plainfield for its eclectic Victorian housing stock became a large part of the driving force for restoration and preservation of those homes. It's not like South Avenue Gateway would start some trend. The gay population has been here for decades and has contributed in many ways to the betterment of the city.
David Rutherford was able to capture about 40 minutes of council remarks on his blog, in addition to what the developer had to say about the project. It might be instructive to review the comments and see what you think.
The project received preliminary and final site plan approval Thursday. The developer still has obtain some other approvals before any ground is broken. Let us hope the discussion involving the governing body proceeds without invoking spurious theories about who might move in.