Dear Editor: NE CID draws concern

Posted January 2, 2013 at 12:00 am

January 2, 2013 

I am concerned about the plans for a CID (Community Improvement District) on Independence Avenue.

In my mind, it is hard to not compare the goals of a CID (security, cleanliness, maintenance, streetscape, and marketing and economic development) to the goals of J.C. Nichols’s Country Club District and other planned developments which are to “insulate the [upper class] from urban squalor.”  

My problem with the CID, with its street ambassadors, is that it essentially serves the people with privilege, and does nothing for the poor except to move them somewhere else, out of sight.  

 If a goal of the CID is to keep out a certain type of person i.e. the panhandler, prostitute and drug dealer, then we are not listening to the needs of our community. Shouldn’t we be asking the hard questions like: “Why are people having to beg for money? Why are women being subjected to prostitution? Why are drugs being sold?”

Don’t get me wrong, I think that many of the incentives for implementing a CID are good.  Cleaning up graffiti and trash and supporting local businesses are important needs for Independence Avenue. I’m not saying that it’s just a bunch of rich people that want this CID. I believe that those people who are pushing for this CID are good people that care a lot about the Historic Northeast. I am just concerned that the CID is preferential to the wealthy and will drive out the poor. I think that we are fooling ourselves if we think that a CID will take care of the poverty that we see on Independence Avenue.  

“Where are the little voices?”  I think this is the question we should be answering. Does the CID show favoritism to the rich, to those who look and dress a certain way?  If so, then I think we should reconsider.  

How can we make Independence Avenue and the Northeast neighborhood a better place for everyone that resides here, rich and poor, resident and immigrant? As we move forward, may we heed the apostle James’ call to “Remember the prisoners as if you were in prison with them, and people who are mistreated as if you were in their place.”  May we also remember the homeless and poor on Independence Avenue as if we were in their shoes.

- Josh Armfield,
Historic Northeast