Council President Darrell Clarke spoke to long-term residents concerned with his neighborhood improvement district plans.
A week before the first hearing on the North Central Neighborhood Improvement District is to be held, community members came out to a meeting in force against the proposed bill. City Council President Darrell Clarke, who introduced the district proposal, was there to defend it.
In a crammed Walk Auditorium yesterday, March 6, at Ritter Hall, opponents of the bill cited Temple’s growing presence in the community as a main concern going forward.
“It used to be a neighborhood, now it’s Temple’s campus,” North Philadelphia resident Evelyn Gray said. “It’s good for the landlords, but I’m still concerned about the people. You don’t need somebody to come in your neighborhood and say ‘you need to sweep up your trash.’ We’ve been doing that all of our lives. You [landlords] need to sit the tenants down–which are the students–and tell them this is how we do it in the ‘hood.”
Clarke, who represents the fifth district, which includes the area near Main Campus, attended the meeting and quickly made his presence known by retorting to opponents of the bill who were concerned as to why the community is just now on the forefront of landlords’ minds.
“Over the last two to three years, I’ve been walking around this neighborhood. One of the biggest complaints was about student housing,” Clarke said. “I met with the landlords and said something is going to happen one way or another. We can get more security and more cleanups. We came up with the solution to create a special services district.”
Clarke said that he wasn’t fazed by the verbal jabs from the opponents of the bill at the meeting.
“My skin’s so thick it scares the hell out of me,” Clarke said.
Residents also voiced their displeasure with what they said were services that are set up already, but aren’t implemented properly.
“A lot of the things that are being asked here are already in place, they’re just not being enforced,” resident Robert Winfield said. “Everybody’s in place, why do we need extra people, extra money?”
After the meeting, Clarke said that the meeting was a success in that it cleared up misunderstandings about the bill.
“I think we got a significant amount of the misconceptions about this bill cleared up,” Clarke said. “People are passionate about their neighborhood and most of the people in here are long-term residents. I understand that when something is proposed for their neighborhood, and particularly when they think that they haven’t been a part of the process from day one, they naturally have some concern.”
Herb Reid, a landlord and member of the informal steering committee of the NID, added that after the past two meetings about the district, changes could be made.
“There’s definitely some changes that need to come into the bill,” Reid said. “We tried to add a bit of clarity. There’s some representation from the neighborhood that needs to change.”
The first hearing on the NID will be held on Tuesday, March 13, in Room 400 of City Hall at 10 a.m.
Sean Carlin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on this, pick up The Temple News on Tuesday, March 13.