Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Salemtown Neighbors Speaks Out for Unconditional Completion of Federally-funded Streetscape Plan

The letter sent to MDHA, CM Erica Gilmore, Metro Action, and the Mayor's Office from the President of Salemtown Neighbors in support of the neighborhood's citizen advisory committee:
As the association representing the neighborhood that was the recipient of a community development block grant a few years ago, the Salemtown Neighbors Neighborhood Association voted unanimously last night to support the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) that was convened to work with MDHA in creating a plan for implementation of the grant as the CAC pursues completion of the original plan.

CAC members, many of whom are also association members, provided regular updates to our neighbors on the progress being made in applying the grant, and our neighbors have been enthusiastic supporters of the streetscape improvements. It was with some surprise that we learned that implementation had been halted by a stakeholder that, for a variety of reasons, had not been a full participant in the planning process of the grant.

I have been impressed that Councilwoman Gilmore, who represents our neighborhood in its entirety, has sought to involve stakeholders in the process of understanding a variety of Metro departments and agencies. Similarly, I have been impressed that MDHA so successfully brought together property owners thoroughly representative of our neighborhood as participants in the CAC. Most recently, New Level Community Development Corporation, a project of Mt. Zion, brought together a number of stakeholders at the MDHA training facility, which is located approximately 6 blocks from the Metro Action Commission (MAC). We have welcomed Ms. Gilmore; Mr. Banks; officers from Central Precinct; representatives of Codes, Planning, Public Works, and MNPS into our neighborhood.

Considering the level of community organizing taking place just within Salemtown, frequently in partnership with various agencies in Metro, it's striking to me that MAC could not have been aware of the CAC/MDHA planning process across three years.

Bearing that in mind, it's even more striking to me that MDHA would let a stakeholder previously absent from 3 years of planning a project that is now well into implementation halt the implementation wholesale, especially toward the tail end of a project that has seen no shortage of preventable delays and cost overruns and when it was well within MDHA's power to identify Metro agencies falling within the boundaries of the area affected by the plan. I'm now left to wonder whether an individual homeowner could have accomplished the same feat if mere bureaucracy had prevented successful delivery of meeting notices to the correct mailbox of a property whose immediately adjacent public right of way would be affected.

I do regret that the Metro Action Commission (MAC) has not been more directly involved in either the CAC process or our neighborhood association. I look forward to rectifying that in the near future for as long as MAC is a neighbor.

In the short term, I look forward to a resolution Wednesday evening that results in the completion of our block grant as originally planned with the full support of the Salemtown Neighbors Neighborhood Association.

Best regards.

Freddie O'Connell
President, Salemtown Neighbors

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