This is our first history lesson. It begins not at the beginning but somewhere in the middle. This lesson has two parts. I begin, naturally, with part one…
It is morning, March 30, 2015. People are retrieving their newspapers. The night before at 6:13pm a story appeared online from N&O reporter, Andrew Kenney.
Andy reports (link to Andy Kenney’s entire report is below),
“Tempers are flaring and relationships fraying as the city grapples with a new wave of development. During the struggles, Raleigh’s 19 citizen councils have become flashpoints in debates about everything from gentrification to suburban development, prompting calls for change in a system designed to link city government and constituents.”
Former Council Member, John Odom, calls for an investigation. According to Andy,
“In South Raleigh, City Council member John Odom has called an investigation into a contentious meeting between that area’s Citizens Advisory Council and a local nonprofit. East of downtown, another citizen board was the site of a showdown between a City Council member and a neighborhood leader.”
Citizen Advisory Council (CAC) meetings are fluid. CACs are a gathering place for citizens. A particular development case arises and those citizens concerned or interested in that case come to the CAC to hear about and – importantly – express their opinions and view. Development cases range from rezonings to disposition of property that the City owns for redevelopment.
Sometimes CAC discuss other matters that can be equally or more contentious. Andy Kenney reports on the matter of a building just south of downtown known as the Raleigh Community and Safety Club. According to Andy, a non-profit known as Passage Home hosts several programs from the building paid in part with grants from the City including $50,000 to “start a program that would employ and train five people at a time” in the building’s commercial kitchen.
Use of the building was discussed at a recent CAC meeting where the Chief Executive of Passage Home gave a presentation.
Citizens from the area were concerned that they were being excluded from the building which had been a long time landmark of the area as a public gathering space. They were concerned that Passage Home wasn’t serving the neighborhood apparently as intended but keeping the building inaccessible and using it to serve people from outside the neighborhood.
Per Andy Kenney the following sentiment was expressed, “We are the public that you should have collaborated with. Since 2005, you have not collaborated with us, and the community has questions.”
As Andy Kenny writes, there is tension.
John Odom learns of the debate and the tension and brings this meeting up at the March 3, 2015 City Council meeting. Andy notes,
“Odom, a member of Passage Home’s board of directors, brought the spat to the City Council on March 3.”
I’ll stop here. In the second part some more characters enter our story including one named, David Cox. But, there is no need to get into that just now.
And so it began…