08/17/04 — Councilmen want city to intervene in neighborhood

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Councilmen want city to intervene in neighborhood

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on August 17, 2004 2:03 PM

Goldsboro Councilmen Chuck Allen and Bob Waller ride down Slocumb Street, between Mulberry and Walnut, shaking their heads in dismay over the deteriorating and dilapidated houses.

Many of the houses in the section barely show the luster of their past years, with sheets of peeled paint revealing a skeleton of bare wood.

Broken steps and dirt yards show years of neglect, and shabby looking "for sale" signs dot the block.

Around the corner on Kornegay Street, the outside steps to the second floor of a castle-like building are covered in grass.

Yet a block or two away, there are well-kept homes with manicured lawns.

Allen and Waller would like to see the area renovated, but believe it would take intervention by the city.

"To save the integrity of the neighborhood, I think we're going to have to see if this area could be deemed blighted so the city could buy the houses," Allen said.

If the city doesn't form a plan to restore blighted neighborhoods, Allen explained, the houses will deteriorate to the point of being condemned.

"Then we're going to end up with a bunch of vacant lots and no plan to revitalize the area," he said.

The two councilmen want the city to try to get federal grants to fund revitalization projects for neighborhoods.

What they hope to see happen in the area around Slocumb and Walnut streets is the use of grants to buy the land, tear down houses and build affordable housing for middle-income citizens.

"I'd like to see teachers, firefighters and policemen be able to buy homes, and I think this kind of project could give them a start," Allen said.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awards money to carry out a wide range of community development activities to revitalize neighborhoods, for economic development, and to provide improved community facilities and services. The community must give priority to activities that benefit low- and moderate-income people.

Allen said he knew that Goldsboro's community block grant program was targeting houses that needed rehabilitation, but he believed it was done on a "scattered site" basis.

He said he believed that the city needed to take a lead in identifying blighted areas and developing a vision to revitalize and redevelop those areas.