Please see this rebuttal to “Give LAYC a chance?” posted earlier today. Mike on 1st St. asked me to post this, adding, “I’ve drafted a statement which I believe expresses the frustrations of a significant number of the LAYC opponents.” Feel free to add your comments as well, or email email@example.com if you wish to also post an entry.
The argument for YBPCS/LAYC has been characterized as a choice between awarding the building to LAYC or having an empty building for the next decade. Some feel that having something, anything, is better than the building remaining vacant. This is a false dichotomy.
As many residents know this area contains the highest density of social services in the entire city. In fact, there are over 13 currently in operation within 3 blocks of the J.F. Cook School. With M.M. Washington scheduled to be developed as low-income senior housing and two SOME properties recently sold to other social service groups, there remain very few if no public properties left in the neighborhood which are large enough to spur development of the surrounding neighborhood. The current YBPCS/LAYC proposal, no matter how successful in its mission will not generate the necessary stimulus to help lift up this stretch of the North Capitol corridor.
Even though YBPCS/LAYC has expressed a desire to solicit community input, their plans remain almost completely unchanged since it was introduced to the community over a year ago. If you follow the time-line, most of their engagement has been reactive rather than pro-active.
- Their participation in a neighborhood cleanup occurred only after the motion opposing J.F. School was passed.
- The meeting at the J.F. Cook only occurred after the city council delayed awarding the school.
- The most recent Big Bear meeting was announced only after an outcry on this blog.
- The only area which has been open for community input comprises less than a third of the school.
While I can only speak for myself, I believe most residents in the community are supportive of some parts of the current proposal. Specifically, almost everyone has spoken highly of the Youth Build Public Charter School component. Unfortunately, the only option that YBPCS/LAYC continues to offer is all (YBPCS and housing) or nothing. If the organization was serious about working the community they would present us with a plan that would both meet the needs of YBPCS and realize the desires of the community. Some examples of what I believe would be a welcome addition include:
- A mixed proposal composed of YBPCS educational services and the arts destination the community desires.
- A YBPCS partnership with the UDC to offer a full development path not only for their students, but also provide an educational resource for all of Ward 5.
The real choice is between a use for J.F. Cook which will help grow the community and reinvigorate the North Capital Corridor and a use which will merely exist in the neighborhood.