Quick Update: Demolition Politics
There are two articles in today's Herald-Sun about the 'demolition moratorium' - one highlights the decision to seek the moratorium, and interviews Mike Woodard about why the city would seek to hold off on demolitions (with comments from me as well.)
Interestingly, there is a second article about how Constance Stancil went out to present pictures of the worst houses her department has demolished (burned, collapsing) to the Partnership for a New East Durham community group. And evidently she told the community that:
"People from outside North-East-Central Durham were moving to trying to prevent [her] from demolishing such properties"
The us-vs-them theme was echoed by Melvin Whitley - who posited that "Fireball White has an ally in a non-profit organization that doesn't even live here?" (I assume he is talking about Preservation Durham, but I don't know.)
I can't say how unfortunate I find this - quite obviously, the us-vs-them stance implies that Stancil is an unwilling participant in this 'summit' and doesn't feel the current demolish-'em-all mentality should be changed.
To be clear: I don't think anyone would argue that a truly-collapsing, burned-out structure should not be demolished. And while I am not a non-profit organization, I think it should be clear that I am no friend of what Fireball does with his properties.
For the city administration to try to sow the seeds of division between neighborhoods by highlighting our differences rather than our common ground is not acceptable. I welcome the input of anyone into this process, and I fully recognize the costs of vacant and abandoned property to the community.
But we've been forced into a false dichotomy - live with the horrible house in perpetuity, or tear it down. My position always has been to answer "none-of-the-above". Historic housing is a community asset, and, as such, it needs to be protected from demolition-by-neglect (blight) and demolition. We need to repair and revitalize these houses, at which point they will be a benefit to the community around them.
For a city employee to imply that we have no other choices, and that 'others' want to perpetuate blight in the community is nothing more than inciting the politics of division to protect her department's unchecked power.