Contemplating Change

GREENLINE2Day 165 (June 14, 2014) – St. Paul, MN

She looks out the window with trepidation as the new fancy steel machine rumbles forward.  Where to? They say new opportunity. Maybe. Change, definitely. She knows tomorrow is not promised. She knows that the change may not before her. These type of things just happen to people like her. Planning decisions. Development. Neighborhood change. They just happen.

Today I am both excited and worried. I’m excited because they opened  a new light rail and I’m a planning geek. These types of things, you know, transit improvements, zoning changes, new development, etc…they just excite me. But I’m also fearful of what this light rail project may ultimate produce for the forgotten neighborhoods. I’ve seen it before. It’s happened in Denver and San Francisco and Dallas and all over the country. Where transit “improvements” and planning decisions essentially destroyed vibrant ethnic and lower income neighborhoods in the past  they are now be used a tool for revitalization. I worry that revitalization will be the final nail in the coffin for some of communities.  The private market will react to hundreds of millions of dollars of investment in a fierce way. It’s even happening with green infrastructure projects. The market sees the public investments and then offers the public “luxury” condos. Time will tell the fate of the communities along this corridor. But history has given us a sneak peek.


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