Written by Mike Martin
Redevelopment, crime, communication, and historic preservation
COLUMBIA, 6/20/12 (Beat Byte) -- Columbia's North Central neighborhood that includes the North Village Arts District, Columbia College, and the controversial Odle/Brookside Apartment complex that burned a few weeks ago has a full plate of "to dos," explains North Central neighborhood association (NCCNA) president Patricia Fowler.
Like many neighborhood groups, "we are monitoring the new EEZ process (given that the previous one had a bull's eye on part of our neighborhood)," Fowler explained.
Other initiatives fall into four broad categories: redevelopment; historic preservation; crime; and the need for basic, courteous communication at the policy-making level (see story about Parks Commission and Heibel-March demolition.)
NCCNA wants a long-denied seat at the Brookside student apartments negotiating table, where "a pending agreement appears to meet the needs of select city departments or mayoral initiatives, but not the needs of neighbors," Fowler said.
With the Odle project gobbling up block after block of single-family residences; empty lots; and much smaller buildings, and the new Short Street Son of Garagezilla, neighbors are "facing the longest continuous dead wall of brick and concrete in downtown Columbia," she added, far exceeding the giant white church wall across from Shakespeare's Pizza.
The area's "fragile storm water system," also faces "enormous new pressures," she said.
On the crime front, "we are participating in community meetings on how to keep our young people safe from drug and gun violence, and to keep Douglass Park safe," Fowler said. More specifically, "we are monitoring the eviction of tenants at 305 N 8th Street, the scene of a drug related fatal shooting on March 4th."
Redevelopment is looming on nearly every block of North Central -- given its one-of-a-kind location between three colleges and nestled against downtown -- so NCCNA is watching several related initiatives.
The Columbia Housing Authority wants to redevelop affordable housing along Park Avenue. Boone County Family Resources (BCFR) is demolishing small, older houses included in the agency's massive property-buying binge around their headquarters next to Brookside Apartments.
Finally, NCCNA is keeping a very wary eye on another redevelopment tax incentive project, this one "a TIF district that most certainly will include the First Ward and specifically portions of North Central," Fowler said.