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Monday, Oct. 20, 2014

Different ways to fight blight

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Though I assume most readers don't follow the politics of Detroit, I have been following some developments there on their plans to regain control of problem neighborhoods.

Please don't make any comparison between Detroit and Sikeston because none exists. Yet there are some similarities between two completely different communities trying to address specific housing issues.

The idea is floating around Detroit to relocate residents from high problem neighborhoods and make that land available for development. In Detroit's case, they hope to make that ground available for commercial development, given the city's astronomical unemployment.

Under the process of eminent domain, the city would force residents of blighted neighborhoods to relocate elsewhere. Those residents would receive financial help to make the move possible, though the plan currently is short on detail.

Here's the twist. If the plan for relocation does not work, the city is considering removing city services from some of those neighborhoods. No city police patrols, no street lights would be maintained. Ambulance service would remain however.

It's a unique backdoor approach to convincing some residents that they should move for their own safety and for the betterment of the community.

Sikeston - as you well know - formed a Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority to address just such neighborhoods. There obviously has never been any discussion on relocating residents and there never will be. But the story of Detroit is about two communities taking radically different paths to address similar problems.

LCRA has been an effective tool for our community to address some of the problem properties in problem neighborhoods. I have always hoped the pace of the LCRA would be faster and have been told in no uncertain terms that I don't understand the process.

Hogwash!

I fully understand the legal process involved. Lest we forget, I was among those in the development of the LCRA concept. I recognize the pace of condemnation and removal is a slow one. And I reluctantly accept that pace.

But perhaps what is missing in this equation is the stark reality that everyday in our community more homes inch toward the condemnation phase. This is an ongoing process that is much more than a numbers game. It's a race against time.

Right now, we're winning. But there is no finish line in this race. Speed is of the utmost importance.



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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen