Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Vance Avenue

By Joe Birch - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Comments from everyday people could help shape future designs of the Vance Avenue area south of FedExForum.

Anna Bielewicz and her classmates from Virginia Tech recently united with college students from Christian Brothers, Rhodes and the University of Memphis for a spring break crash course on this part of South Memphis.

Two by two, they spread out to ask dozens of people a series of grassroots questions.  Besides improving public safety, the interviews, conducted with residents of the area, will help give urban planners a clearer picture of what people want.

"I would like to see playgrounds built: monkey bars...a sandbox...anything for the kids," respondent Quontez Stanley told the team.

Meanwhile, program participants said Memphis wasn't what they expected.

"I, to be honest, was very nervous," Bielewicz said. "I was really scared. But everyone I've met here has been so hospitable, so willing to talk to me."

All the raw information will be provided to Dr. Ken Reardon, the University of Memphis' professor of City and Regional Planning, who will present a vision about what could be.

"To address housing, job generation, small business assistance, improvement of open spaces, public safety concerns, youth development and senior services in a comprehensive and holistic way," he said.
According to Reardon, cities that present comprehensive neighborhood revitalization plans get a top rating from the Obama administration, which may fund some of the change that could come from simply asking people what they want.

The public is invited to a neighborhood summit at 10:00 a.m. Sunday, March 20th at St. Patrick Learning Center, located at 4th Street and Pontotoc, to talk about the planning process and rank the top priorities.

For more details on this project, click here.

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