How Do we Tackle these Issues?
Revitalization doesn't happen overnight. Clear examples of this can be found in both the Roxian Project and the old P&LE Project. Both of these projects took more than 10 years to get where they are today. But BOTH are now in a position to be major players in our revitalization.
But sitting around waiting for new business to spring up just because the Roxian is here and Speedway is coming will not solve our issues. Neither do we believe Revitalization means random development or looking for grants and then building to suit the grant. It requires Planning! Every community we know of that has succeeded in revitalization had a PLAN!
After MUCH Discussion Council finally voted to hire Palo Alto Partners three months after Councilwoman Delgado originally brought the motion. Four Council people dissented because they don't think we need a plan. Then it took another three months to get the contract signed while the dissenters stalled. Palo Aalto Partners are experts in Urban Development and Revitalization. They will help us make a plan on how to best tackle our issues.
Once we have a plan we can tackle getting ownership of blighted properties so they can be torn down or renovated. But we need to know what's best for the property and the neighborhood first.
We also hired a zoning expert to help us re-write our zoning laws and bring them into the 21st century. Our zoning hasn't been updated since 1974! Currently it takes a new business applicant multiple trips to Planning and Zoning. No one has a straight answer for how to get anything done and everyone gets confused. That is not how you get new business. That is how you discourage business. We will make sure that modern zoning is implemented even though some on council want to keep things the way they are.
We need small groups of people consisting of Council members and residents and businesses to go talk with the local representatives in places that have succeeded in turning their communities around. We need to talk to places like Braddock and Lawrenceville and even Ambridge which is street scaping its entire downtown into a charming village. We need to listen to what they did right and what they'd do differently.
We need to find ways to encourage home ownership and help homeowners fix up their properties. Maybe its time for a new kind of "barn raisings" where people give one day a month - or every quarter - to work with a team to help someone who needs help repairing or maintaining their property. The teams could do things like painting, weeding, hanging curtains, etc. Right now we have teams of college students who di things like this once a year for about a week. Thats good but its not nearly enough!
We need YOUR ideas. Everybody has something they want to see happen. Maybe some of those ideas can become reality!