Today, the Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC) is holding the final meeting in a series of public meetings to discuss community benefits tied to Ford Motor Co.’s development project in Corktown.
Any time a major redevelopment project uses a significant amount of taxpayer dollars, residents of the impacted area and surrounding communities deserve strong community benefits that will enhance the quality of life, protect the environment and public health, and build a long-term plan for continuous engagement so that the neighborhoods can have the best opportunity to thrive. My office was represented at every single Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC) meeting for the project and we listened carefully to what residents and NAC members shared in terms of ideas, hopes, concerns, and questions.
A few weeks ago, I submitted several ideas which were included in the NAC document, with a heavy emphasis on programs for renters, homeowners and small business owners to ensure greater long-term affordability. I firmly believe housing justice is one of the major crises that our city and state must grapple with in a comprehensive way in the next few years, and I’m hopeful that the programs contemplated in the NAC will be important steps forward to larger, community-wide solutions. I will continue to advocate for housing legislation, like my bill to repeal the prohibition on local rent control programs and another bill to freeze property taxes for low-income, long-term senior residents to keep them in their neighborhoods as property values rise.
I hope that the final community benefits agreement or future documents between the community and Ford will include stronger language regarding commitments to environmental protection, such as committing to best practices for dust control plans, more details about air monitoring programs, and transparency and accountability regarding the abatement and demolition of the former Lincoln Brass site.
Lastly, Ford has communicated their commitment to long-term engagement beyond the formal NAC process. Back in July before the formal NAC process began, Councilmember Raquel Castañeda-López and I held a small informal gathering for impact area community and small business leaders to meet representatives from Ford and begin to build relationships. It is my understanding that Ford fully intends to pursue further conversations about additional community benefits after the NAC process is completed, which I hope will identify even more clear ways to benefit the immediate neighborhoods as well as communities just outside the impact area. I will continue to work hard to advocate for residents’ needs so that we can continue to improve the quality of life in our district.