Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Ripple Effect - Targeting Community Investments

The S. Ellen Jones Neighborhood Association had a significant meeting this week. Deputy Mayor, Carl Malysz, was the guest speaker at our monthly meeting. What transpired was over two hours of productive discussion. The event was covered by the Tribune and the full story can be read here.

Getting quoted in the paper is always an interesting experience for me. Context is quite important when only one or two sentences are put in print. While I believe that reporter Daniel Suddeath did a fine job, I do want to add clarification to a couple of my quotes.

“Fulmore said a concentrated strategy is the best way to deal with code issues and it has been proven to work in other cities.”

If you have limited resources – money and manpower – then yes, concentrating on specific areas is a good idea. When I referenced other cities, I was referring to Richmond, Virginia and their Neighborhoods in Bloom policy – “directing public and nonprofit funds investments to specific neighborhoods with the aim of attracting and sustaining additional private capital.”

Click and read this document for the full story. It lays out how Targeted Community Investment has worked and been successful there.

“I believe that if everyone is patient and we set realistic expectations, we can accomplish much through this new collaboration,” Fulmore said.

My point is that code enforcement is but one part of the effort to revitalize a neighborhood. There should be no expectation that by itself, it will create a neighborhood of choice. If we are going to target code enforcement in one area, then developing complementary strategies is crucial.

Additional strategies were bounced around during the meeting including a program to acquire blighted properties, rehab and sell homes. Creating an image building campaign, branding New Albany as “Insert your catchy phrase here”. Focusing emergency home repair funds (a project already being planned). And there was more.

I’ll be revisiting these topics frequently in the coming weeks. There’s some momentum being gained and reason for optimism.

Further Reading and Reference:

Neighborhoods in Bloom website

The Ripple Effect – Economic Impacts of Targeted Community Investments

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Slavery Program at Farmington Historic Plantation Saturday February 23rd

The history of slavery in the region has always interested me. Luckily, local author Pam Peters has documented much of that history in her book, "The Underground Railroad In Floyd County, Indiana". It describes the plight of those seeking freedom and the people that helped them in that quest.

If the topic is one you'd like to learn more about then mark you calendar for Saturday, February 23rd. The Farmingtion Historic Plantation is presenting what promises to be a very educational program - Faces of Slavery. Details are below.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Greenway and Riverfront in New Albany

Our riverfront has always been a favorite destination of mine on walks and runs around town. During the pleasant weather last weekend, I got the camera out and took a few shots. Progress on the Greenway is moving right along. And I love it.

I wasn’t the only one out that morning. At least a dozen other visitors were strolling and enjoying the views. Not to bad for a February morning.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Foreclosure Crisis

Updated 2/4/2008, 2:08pm

In January the Metropolitan Housing Coalition released a study of foreclosures in Louisville Metro. It’s scary. And it’s not just a problem in older, historic neighborhoods.

The numbers are stunning:
1996 – 437 foreclosures
2007 – 3,187 foreclosures

Most reading this web log know the impact of a vacant home in the neighborhood. They destabilize the area, becoming flashpoints for trouble. Some foreclosures will result in properties sitting vacant for extended periods of time. And if properties are sold, there’s the possibility they will fall into the hands of unsavory investors common in the New Albany area.

It’s an ugly cycle. And sometimes the cycle ends with a bulldozer, funded by our tax dollars, demolishing a home and sending it to the landfill. As a side note, our city council is being asked to appropriate $53,000* to our Unsafe Building fund this Monday. It’s a way of addressing the symptom. It clearly does not address the cause.

One way to counteract the cycle is through resident education. If you can, you should attend the Silver Grove Neighborhood Association meeting on February 7th. A spokesperson from National City bank will be the featured speaker and the topic will be “Protecting Yourself from Abusive Lenders”. It’s an important message also delivered to the S. Ellen Jones Neighborhood last fall.

Also in February, Carl Malysz, Deputy Mayor and Director of Community Development, will be speaking to the S. Ellen Jones Neighborhood (Tuesday, February 19th). We expect a spirited discussion of strategies addressing the stabilization of our neighborhoods. Join us if you can.

*Clarification: The appropriation of $53,000 is not new money being requested for the Unsafe Building Fund (for the purpose of demolition), it is a funding request that was not approved last year.