Dependable Erection

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Endangered Durham and NIS

Been a busy week in the Durham blogosphere, and i wanted to call attention to this post by Gary over at Endangered Durham.

Seems that our local Neighborhood Improvement Services Department has been a little quick on the trigger finger when it comes to demolishing abandoned and neglected buildings around town. A number of folks, Gary included, have protested against this policy, and the city has recently declared a moratorium on the practice.

That's not the big issue.

Constance Stancil, NIS director, recently held a meeting with some east Durham leaders trying to justify her department's demolitions. And there are some concerns that maybe her presentation was a touch one-sided.

I just want to chime in a little by saying that i've worked in the past with Rev. Whitley, and i trust him implicitly. He's done as much good work for Durham in recent years as anyone i know. I've also had to deal with NIS and Ms. Stancil recently, not over an abandoned property, but an absentee landlord who's been content to rent a house on my block to a variety of drug dealers, petty criminals, and most recently pit bull breeders. I can't say that the results we obtained from NIS satisfied any of the neighbors.

So i hope that Gary and the rest of those who have supported preserving more of our historic structures are able to get together with Melvin Whitley and other east Durham activists who are working hard to make east Durham a safer and more attractive place to live and find common ground. It's always distressing when people choose division as the easier path.


  • Barry

    Not sure I fully understand your post - but I'll clarify that I've worked with multiple folks in East Durham (and other neighborhoods, since E.Durham is hardly the only neighborhood affected by this) for a couple of years, and I know Melvin has worked with other members of the community as well. In fact, that is the source of my frustration in the post you've linked - it takes a lot of effort to build fragile ties between communities, and to have city administration come in to try to poison those relationships along traditional fracture lines is not only frustrating, but, I think, entirely inappropriate. What we are trying to work towards is common ground among multiple neighborhoods - West End/Lyon Park, Old North Durham, Southside, Walltown, Trinity Park, Duke Park, OWD, East Durham - etc., etc. - because the same policy exists in all of those neighborhoods.


    By Blogger Gary, at 7:52 AM  

  • That's what i get for writing when i should be drinking.

    i guess what i was responding to was a sense, in both your post and in the H-S article, that NIS was playing Rev. Whitley against you, or more genereically, East Durham community activists against preservation activists.

    It wasn't clear from the posts what working relationship you may have with Rev. Whitley, and i was only trying to encourage y'all to work together and discourage NIS from trying to pit you against each other.

    Sorry for the lack of clarity.

    By Blogger Barry Ragin, at 9:18 AM  

  • Barry

    Thanks for the clarification - I absolutely want all of us to work together towards a policy that (hopefully) we can all live with. As with many neighborhoods, East Durham is a diverse place - there are people who believe strongly in preservation and those who don't. Just as there are preservation folks who wring their hands perpetually about Trinity Park, OND, Watts-Hillandale, wherever-they-live, but if it doesn't involve their neighborhood, it doesn't matter.
    So the notion that East Durham is on one side and preservationists on the other is the construct that NIS is pushing - as I'm sure you've gleaned from your community work, the reality is a lot messier.



    By Blogger Gary, at 10:02 AM  

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