Durham CAN Raises Concerns About The Lack of Public Involvement in Redevelopment Planning for 519 E Main Street & Liberty Street Apartments
Ms. Ketty Telemaque, Durham CAN Strategy Team Co-Chair
Abundant Hope Christian Church
(919) 632-5083 | [email protected]
Mr. Kevin McNamee, Durham CAN Strategy Team Co-Chair
Durham Friends Meeting
(919) 599-9165 | [email protected]
Durham CAN Raises Concerns About The Lack of Public Involvement in Redevelopment Planning for 519 Main Street and Liberty Street Apartments
DURHAM, North Carolina, FEBRUARY 23, 2020 -- On Tuesday, February 16th, the Strategy Team and Clergy Co-Chairs of Durham Congregations, Associations and Neighborhoods (Durham CAN) issued a letter to the City of Durham Community Development Department (CDD), the Durham Housing Authority (DHA) and the North Carolina Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO), raising concerns about the lack of public involvement in the Section 106 process, which requires public consultation for development projects that affect historic buildings as outlined in the National Historic Preservation Act.
On November 19th 2020, Durham CAN leaders participated as a ‘Consulting Party’ in the first of three Section 106 meetings with DHA and CDD concerning the planned demolition of two current DHA properties: 519 Main Street (formerly Oldham Towers) and Liberty Street Apartments. Over the course of three meetings, CAN repeatedly raised concerns over the lack of public notice about the meetings, the difficulty of obtaining documents essential to the process, and the lack of communication about the MOA with current residents, neighbors, and other community organizations involved in housing in Durham. Despite raising these concerns, DHA and CDD declined to publicly republish the complete MOA and the required documentation.
DHA and CDD’s decision suggests a level of apathy for community engagement and transparency and a lack of accountability for the ensuing results. Public housing is located on public land, funded by public tax dollars, and administered by public agencies, yet the public was left out of the decision-making process. This apathy not only affects residents at 519 Main Street (formerly Oldham Towers) and Liberty St. Apartments, but our neighbors facing long-standing disrepair and neglect issues at other DHA properties; neighbors recently displaced due to the JJ Henderson redevelopment; the 800 DHA households identified as at risk for eviction at the end of March; neighbors who live adjacent to the vacant 702/704 Grant Street and Fayetteville Street Projects sites; and members of the Durham Community at large.
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