I know I probably came cross as a bit harsh and uncaring for the poor in my last post. I do think that ultimately neighborhood integration would be a good thing...and I think it would help with the overwhelmingly negative image of the area...but something needs to be done with the buildings themselves.
A lot of what hurts the projects is that image. It makes it difficult for anything to redevelop or gentrify nearby. Edgefield is a notable exception, but only due to it's unique housing stock. There is nothing even close to that sort of value anywhere down Lafayette. Simply put, it's a trashy area that some people are even afraid to drive through during daylight hours.
But anyways, I think the Napier projects nearby actually have a pretty cool "neighborhood" look. They are oriented to the street, and in my opinion, even attractive (for old school public housing). There's actually some potential with those (and a few others...Andrew Jackson Courts; Cheatham Place) to actually rehab what is there. Make a few aesthetic changes (but keep the mature trees), rehab the interiors, give them new windows. Yeah...I could see working with that. Excuse the phrase, but they're like a poor man's townhouse.
But these? These?? No way. The sooner they tear down these abominations the better. Replace it with some workforce housing....SOMETHING other than that. Just clean it up a bit.
I would invest in cleaning up the projects before pumping money into the surrounding neighborhood. If you leave the problem area a problem area...what is going to change? Who is going to take the financial risk to move their business to a notoriously bad neighborhood? Just throwing money at the area and saying "hey, you're a part of this, too" is a bit naive, I think.
I understand what you're saying, and I agree to a point. But I guess I just feel like the city has essentially given people in this income bracket no legitimate choice on where to live other than these shoddy, poorly funded, ramshackle neighborhoods, which is degrading enough for these folks as it is. But imagine what it might be like if the city then came in and told them that they have to get lost and find somewhere else to live, because they're going to bulldoze their entire neighborhood since they don't find it pleasing to the eye, which they had nothing to do with? I just think that would be an incredibly irresponsible and inhumane course of action. I think the proper course of action, challenging as it may be, is to reconnect, reintegrate, and encourage socio-economic diversity in the neighborhood by investing in it and adding to it, not to cut it off from the rest of the city even more than it already is and demolish anything that isn't aesthetically pleasing.
I have done some police ride alongs with officers that were stationed in Zone 11, or the JC Napier area. Something def needs to be done there because it is awful. It felt like the movie Training Day. At the time it was one officer for that whole zone unless they had some flex support. Hermitage precinct is spread so thin that it easily would of been 10-15 min before help could of arrived. Just hearing the stories on how they use the bridge as an escape from the cops makes me want to see it demolished. It is also an easy access to sell drugs away from the projects. Some are "banned" from being there so they can avoid any trouble by just staying on the other side. I knew it was going to be an interesting night when the first call was someone driving around with a gun out the window.
Hey, you know what would make them much easier to control, is if we just put a big wall around the entire neighborhood, and didn't allow them to exit without permission. Okay, I know that's hyperbole, and I know that isn't what you were implying, but I'm saying it to make a point. Despite how frustrating some of them can be, these are still human beings that live there, and they are Nashvillians. They aren't a virus or a bunch of animals that should be isolated or corralled. It might be a challenge to improve the situation there, but they deserve it just as much as people in Germantown or Sylvan Park or Rolling Mill Hill.
I realize that it's easy to think that if we could only isolate the area more, then it would be increasingly difficult for them to get to where you are. But to me, that's the reflexive response. That's the irresponsible response. That's the regressive response. The attitude that 'they' should all just be isolated in some kind of pseudo human zoo so us 'normal' folk don't have to deal with them, is EXACTLY why that area developed into a troubled neighborhood to begin with.
I'm not saying it would change over night, and I'm not saying it would be easy, but think about it. It's not like being poor inherently causes people to behave badly. It's psychological. If we give these folks essentially no choice but to live in an isolated corner of the city that has almost no amenities or redeeming aesthetic qualities, with nobody else around except for people just like them from a demographic standpoint, I think it is being made pretty clear to those people that the rest of the city doesn't really give a rats ass about them. I'm not trying to defend criminal activity, but how do you think people are going to behave and react to the realization that the rest of society apparently doesn't think they're worth even making an effort for? Sometimes it's not as easy as people simply 'working themselves up by their bootstraps.'
Edited by BnaBreaker, 02 February 2013 - 09:04 AM.