(Op-ed by Peter Children)
The stories coming to me are related to the North end of the city. What to do and how to do it. The most promising of all involve housing; when you instigate new housing you can’t help but remove blight.
Over lunch with our former mayor, Tom Jolas, I listened while he talked. The conversation led us back to the 70’s and the formation of Grant Village on sixth street Southwest. Originally there was some opposition but as the project took life those against it fell by the wayside. Tom also indicated he enlisted the aid of some local pastor’s who spoke in favor of it from the pulpit, that help immeasurably he said. Today forty years later there is a waiting list to get an apartment. It removed scores of low end housing, cleaned up the area and brought new life to a neighborhood in decline.
Could it be repeated on the North End? Yes it could, but these things do not give birth by themselves. It takes initiative to begin with and that seems to be in short supply with our current mayor. This is a time of crises in that area, and also a perfect time to plan a development similar to Grant Village that would play a part in cleaning the area up and at the same time help preserve property values. There is federal money for such projects but the government isn’t going to throw it at you, you have to go get it.
If something like this is ever built I think it should be constructed featuring similar cottage style units built at ground level. That way it would consume more space and eliminate more blight; the same restrictions that apply at Grant Village could apply there was well I assume. There is much more to this city than the downtown core, now with the street scape near complete, maybe the focus could be shifted away from Hockey Rinks downtown to more pressing issues in other directions….like North.