Those in support of the proposed NID hosted a meeting addressing concerns.
Proponents of the North Central Neighborhood Improvement District met with residents in a high-tension meeting on Feb. 22 at Faith and Deliverance Outreach Ministries on the 1500 block of West Stiles Street.
The meeting, hosted by members of an informal steering committee pushing the NID, aimed to inform residents about the district and its affects on the area.
“We find that while there’s money poured into this neighborhood, there are still some very excruciating issues,” Herb Reid, a developer in the area and a member of the informal steering committee, said. “That is the [goal] of the neighborhood improvement district. That’s what it’s here to address. There is a lot to be done to move this neighborhood forward.”
Reid, a member of the Temple Area Property Association, added that some of the main intentions of the NID include trash pickup and “beautifying” the area. He also said crime is a huge part of the project and could involve installing cameras and hiring people to patrol the area and curb crime.
“There’s a tremendous amount that can be done with crime, whether it be eyes in the sky with cameras, whether it be ambassadors on the street to address partying and other crimes,” Reid said. “Those eyes on the street I think are [important] to moving this neighborhood in the right direction.”
The NID, proposed by City Council President Darrell Clarke, who represents the fifth district, plans to improve the area through street cleaning, increased security and street enhancements to the area in a five-year period.
According to the City Council resolution, the proposed first year budget would be $450,000 for a nonprofit in charge of the NID.
An estimated $75,000 would be put toward adminstrative costs.
At previous meetings held by the Community Land Trust Corporation, a nonprofit community development organization, neighbors have raised questions about how the NID would be paid for. Preliminary plans said landlords and property owners would pay a fee equal to approximately 7 percent of their current property tax to a nonprofit setup through the NID. Temple would contribute an unspecified amount of money to the NID. The “tax” would not affect single-family dwelling owners, who would receive the benefits of the district tax-free.
“When we were presented with the idea of helping create this organization, it became incumbent upon us to reach into our pockets to pay for this,” Jonathan Weiss, president of Equinox Management and Construction LLC and TempleTown Realty, said. “I was willing to support this and other landlords were willing to support this and dig into our pockets more, willingly, and spend thousands of dollars more [on the community]. But one of the conditions was that we would have a significant amount of say on how that money gets spent.”
At the meeting, tensions grew among residents who said they were concerned with the informal steering committee that has been pushing the district and with the structure of the board that would oversee the NID.
Reid said the board would consist of nine people. Of the members, Reid said it would include three representatives from Temple, three landlords, a religious leader, a representative from the city and a neighborhood community development representative.
“I have been denied the right as a United States citizen to participate in the decision making process,” Vivian VanStory, president and founder of the Community Land Trust Corporation, said. “How dare you [developers] form a steering committee without the community? How can you be here six years as a developer and not know the ins and outs of the community? If the city allows this, it’ll be a revolution that won’t be televised.”
VanStory said she is organizing a petition against the NID.
Reid defended the preliminary board makeup and said that those who contribute the most to the NID should be represented the most.
“Those are the folks paying into it, they’re going to want to be represented,” Reid said. “There’s no way around that. The university is going to want to have some representation, they’re going to be writing a six-figure check to help make this thing work.”
Ray Betzner, assistant vice president of university communications, declined to comment on Reid’s six-figure estimate. He added that the number is still unspecified.
Reid added, “I know if I’m going to paying the bill, I want to know there are some other guys just like me representing some of my needs.”
The next meeting concerning the NID will be a public meeting held on March 6 at Ritter Hall.
Sean Carlin can be reached at email@example.com.