by Michael R. Allen
The rancorous discussion about development on the near north side of St. Louis seems without end. Often, we residents seem stuck between a rock (current conditions, which we do need to overcome) and a hard place (Paul McKee’s clandestine plans). Yet there is a better path than the status quo, which almost everyone will admit is not leading to enough development to transform our area, or a totally privatized plan, which could wipe out large parts of what we call home.
Develop With Dignity is a coalition working to achieve a balanced vision. The group of north side churches, organizations, businesses and individuals have offered a clear set of positive principles for guiding future development:
1. Engage area residents and their elected officials in formulating a redevelopment plan.
2. No use of eminent domain on owner occupied property.
3. Maintain current properties so they do not become a nuisance or a danger to the community.
4. Every consideration must be given to developing diverse communities.
These are simple and direct statements of what residents expect in future development. The principles cut through the mess of what McKee does or does not have planned with a platform for development that does not displace. we will have many heated discussions about the scope and form of new development, but we first need to set base standards for process.
At a community meeting last night, Alderwoman April Ford-Griffin (D-5th) stated that she endorses these principles. Many organizations have already signed on, from Sts. Teresa and Bridget Parish to North Grand Neighborhood Services to St. Louis Crisis Nursery. Here is a working coalition for consensus-based decision-making. Some residents who have met privately with Paul McKee have reported that even he has been favorable to the principles, although he has not signed on. What if he did? Or what if Mayor Francis Slay signed on? What kind of dialog about development could we then start?
Please consider signing on yourself: www.developwithdignity.org