by Michael R. Allen
Tomorrow night, there will be the big truly public meeting on the McEagle north side/downtown project. Here are the details:
Time: 7:00 p.m. Thursday, May 21
Place: Central Baptist Church Educational Center, 2837 Washington Avenue (across from the church)
While open to the public and the press, Tim Logan of the Post-Dispatch reports that organizers (it’s unclear is that means McEagle or elected officials) have aimed this meeting toward 5th and 19th ward residents. Apparently, every 5th and 19th ward registered voter was supposed to receive a mailer about the meeting, but as of mail time yesterday residents whom I know had not received any such thing.
Realtor Myrtle Bailey is serving as “public engagement coordinator” for the “North City Development Project” (for whom she works is unclear) and told Logan that 5th and 19th ward residents will be given the first crack at asking questions.
I understand the aim at the 5th and 19th ward residents, but according to McEagle this project will include a large section of the 6th ward as well as parts of the 3rd and 7th. Outreach ought to be aimed ward-wide, and all elected officials who represent those wards engaged in the first and last public meeting before McEagle plans to submit a blighting study to the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority on May 26.
Realistically, the project transcends ward boundaries. The project will be one of the largest in the city’s history, may include unprecedented tax increment financing and sale of hundreds of acres of city-owned land. If this were a simple matter of a private developer developing land that he owned on his own or with moderate incentive use, the aldermanic system could handle the deal. However, this project falls outside of the aldermanic system — or severely overloads it. Every city resident and alderman has the right to be part of the process.