As pastors, our commitment to the community goes beyond church walls. We’ve recently honored the legacy of the great civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. During Black History Month, we now turn our attention to the preservation of local black history and the continued struggle for equal prosperity within our own city limits.
The Kenton Street/Greenwood Alley rezoning decision permits the destruction of long-standing homes in a historically African American neighborhood. It necessitates the displacement and disruption of residents, including some elderly residents who have shaped this community for many decades. It permanently excludes affordable housing where it has existed for nearly a century. Few, if any, Bowling Green residential neighborhoods would welcome such a development. Yet, impacted residents complain they were misinformed, overlooked or altogether excluded in the process as they sought to give input. Recalling the lessons from a troubled past of urban renewal in communities such as Jonesville, we ask whether all neighborhoods in the city are equally valued today.
Many of our congregations stand within Bowling Green’s “Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Area.” We urge developers and city officials to prioritize responsible revitalization with every proposed development, by acknowledging the existence of and needs for the surrounding community, and by including the input of residents at every stage. In the case of Kenton Street and Greenwood Alley, we believe every effort should have been made to maintain affordable housing. We believe the end result discourages and penalizes developers wishing to do right by the communities in which they choose to locate. The only appropriate development for any residential area is one that truly fits the character of the neighborhood.
We offer our public support to the impacted residents and congregations in their efforts to obtain a fair outcome in their appeal of this decision.
Pastor Stacey L. Beason
Trinity Full Gospel Baptist Church
Pastor Don Duvall
Seventh Street Baptist Church
Senior Minister the Rev. Megan Huston
First Christian Church
Pastor John C. Lee Jr.
Mt. Zion Baptist Church
Pastor Ron E. Whitlock Sr.
New Beginnings Christian Ministries