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Something to Think About: Is Gentrification Happening Here?

Op/Ed By Michael Vaughn


new michael vaughnThere is a notion that has become more prominent in cities across America recently, which is the idea of gentrification.

The definition of gentrification is that it is “a general term for the arrival of wealthier people in an existing urban district, a related increase in rents and property values, and changes in the district’s character and culture.

Relative to this idea, while it is good for a community to continue to improve, I believe it needs to do so in a balanced way, making sure that all of its citizens are being considered.

And, in the city of Rochester, there are a number of initiatives that seem to suggest gentrification is beginning to occur, or that it will occur here.

For example, the inner loop will be filled in to make apartments that will not be affordable for the average Rochesterian. There will also possibly be a performing arts center; and there’s even the proposed casino.

The city has touted these ideas as good for the community, in terms of jobs, as well as an increased tax base.

However, ultimately, the outcome of these actions will be the removal of urban dwellers from their urban centers, to other parts of the city.

And these dwellers will have to move to other parts of the city, where problems are rampant; such as, crime, poverty, poor education, etc.

Subsequently, when those who can afford the amenities the city is able to offer for those who move into the downtown areas, those individuals (and the city) will likely ensure that only those they want in the area will be allowed to be there.

And this will be done by the strict enforcement of current laws, or the passage of new laws and ordinances, with higher fees that will be associated with living in those areas.

I am not against the city improving itself through urban development; however, I am against people being played, and lied to.

Mayor Lovely Warren won her election on the backs of the everyday Rochesterians who believed in her, and trusted her to do something for them.

I say, it would be slap in the face to all of those well-meaning people for her to turn her back on them, and instead cater to the interests of those who did not support her getting into the office she now holds.

Consequently, Rochesterians need to begin making sure that, whenever the city discusses making these capital improvement projects, those officials are using a balanced approach.

For example, what is going to happen to the people who currently live in the areas are going to be redeveloped?

And, with all of the new jobs the city has promised, how many will go to folks who live within the city limits?

And with all the revenue that will be generated from the new development, how much will be provided to improve the quality of life in Rochester?

There has been a central theme that has developed in my articles over the last year or so.

That is: do not sell your influence short!

When you vote for someone, be sure to demand that they are going to look out for your best interests, or let them know that you will withhold your future support.

Too many African-Americans are selling their votes short, both locally, statewide, and, definitely, nationally.

Virtually no elected Democrat today, locally, statewide (when their region includes an urban center), or nationally would have won their office if it weren’t for African-Americans.

And, how much more do you think could be done if African-Americans banned together, used their votes wisely, and demanded things change as a result of their support.

When a city is being revitalized, African Americans should not be on the outside, looking in.

Especially not when African-Americans are the ones who’ve enabled politicians in urban centers to gain their power and influence to begin with.

Therefore, those politicians’ decisions should reflect the interests of African-Americans.

Every other constituency leverages their support for a politician, to have decisions made in their best interests. We need to play that same game!

Make no mistake, Rochester is going to have urban development projects that will be funded, and completed.

As a result, we need to make sure that Mayor Warren, Assemblyman Gantt, Congresswoman Slaughter, Senator Charles Schumer, and others, realize that; if they forget about us, we’ll give our votes to someone who will act with our best interests at heart, instead of making empty promises.

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