by Michael R. Allen
Per St. Louis Patina, here is part of a letter from St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay to Alderwoman April Ford-Griffin (D-5th) that Ford-Griffin read at a rally held Saturday at Sts. Teresa and Bridget Roman Catholic Church:
I strongly support more private investment in the 5th ward as long as it creates quality jobs and improves the quality of life for the people who live in the 5th ward.
Any development must reflect the ward’s diversity. It would be beneficial if it includes both affordable housing and market rate housing.
Any major redevelopment plan will not go forward until and unless there is public input, which includes open dialogue among the developers, the residents and elected officials.
I will not support eminent domain for owner occupied properties.
I will not support a redevelopment plan that does not have community support expressed through the community’s elected representatives.
I will oppose Old North St. Louis being part of a major redevelopment plan unless the residents want to be included.
My administration will not sell LRA holdings as part of a major redevelopment plan unless the community supports the plan through their elected representatives.
Anyone who owns property in the 5th ward must take care of it by meeting codes to ensure public safety and health.
The mayor’s words echo statements by Develop With Dignity, Neighbors for Social Justice, Alderwoman Ford-Griffin, leaders of the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group, urbanist bloggers and even Paul McKee. There now seems to be consensus on some basic parts of redevelopment of the near north side neighborhoods that have attracted so much attention in the past three years. I’m amazed at how many different parties are saying similar things. Of course, the next step is figuring out details of redevelopment and moving past sweeping statements. We have come a long way in the process but there is a long way to go. Hopefully, Slay’s letter indicates that city government is ready to show leadership in facilitating the dialogue needed to move things forward.