Those among our citizenry who have grown weary of talk about redevelopment have freshly declared company.
The mayor and the city council have had enough talk as well. “We’ve talked about neighborhood revitalization for so long,” Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe said before a lengthy special study session last week. “And while we can’t do everything at once, it’s time to take action.”
Action could be taken on some of the items as early as next year, including sidewalk replacement, targeted demolition and more public street lighting and surveillance.
If it feels as though “redevelopment” has been a buzzword for years, that's because it has been. Since 2017, the plan has been slowed because of changes in city administration, which included the hiring of a new city manager, Scot Wrighton, who started in March.
The study session focused on some of the 35-plus ideas previously reviewed by the council, specifically points where three or more members agreed. Those included opportunity zone funding for viable investment projects, additional public lighting and surveillance cameras, large-scale demolition and clearing of properties where development of destination projects are planned.
This editorial board reiterates its position that neighborhood renewal is the clearest path forward for reducing poverty and improving equality in our community, where too many pockets have been ignored for too long.
"We have to make sure everyone knows the difference between needs and wants," Councilman Rodney Walker said. "(The idea) is really focusing on the families ... and I think we'll see a direct impact on that. I think it'll help a lot of our problems."
It is on all of us to come together and resuscitate block by block. We know strong neighborhoods and focused investment mean more prospects for economic development. We know home ownership translates into more stable family life and academic performance for children. As we note elsewhere on this page, we're at long last seeing some of that happen on West Macon Street.
City manager Wrighton categorized solutions into five goals: land and property management, mobilizing human capital, improve the leveraging of financial capital, selectively augment public infrastructure and target/incentivize urban core areas.
Changes won't be happening overnight. The painstaking way in which revitalization has been approached, by developing goals and planning to execute them, should pay off in the long run. But none of us can allow the concept to wither. Citizens need to hold the city to its responsibility, and vice versa.
Let us repeat what we said almost two years ago in this spot:
Imagine a thriving city.
Think of what it looks like.
A bustling downtown, plenty of quality jobs, and access to quality education.
Green space and community activities.
Growing property values and quality homes.
But most all, there is that bedrock of any desirable community — neighborhoods that are flourishing.
“We’ve been telling people we are going to do this,” Moore Wolfe said, “and we need to get going right now.”