To the editor:
As we wind down the bankrupt Midtown/Truman Road Corridor Neighborhood Revitalization efforts, it doesn’t mean we have to abandon the goals and principles of that award-winning program and throw in the towel.
The primary goal of M/TRC was to reduce the number of rental properties and increase owner-occupied properties and investments. There were also components for historic preservation, infrastructure improvement and opportunities for neighborhood participation, including a citizen’s advisory group.
In the absence of M/TRC and in a downturn in the real estate market, historic neighborhoods have been in a rapid decline. And the decline was not just in housing. Heritage Tourism numbers dropped to just a fraction of what they used to be. Now out-of-town developers are interested in investing in the neighborhoods with redeveloping the old Palmer School and rezoning/renovating Heritage House apartments, both for senior rental housing.
Because both these projects do not align with the primary goals of M/TRC, and especially since these projects impact the Harry S. Truman National Historic Landmark District, we have an obligation to review these projects carefully and make sure zoning changes will provide future protections long after ownership changes and housing contracts expire.
Include the neighbors in public meetings before the planning stages, and city commissions voting on these projects, especially those owner-occupied homeowners whose investments are critical to maintaining neighborhood stability, and please include the input of adjacent churches, whose parking facilities will be impacted. These suggestions seem like common sense and just the neighborly thing to do, but unfortunately, these critical steps are getting left out.
The success and sustainability of our historic neighborhoods and community depend on a partnership with neighbors, churches and governments working together for the protection of important history for the benefit of local citizens, 300 million U.S. citizens and future generations.