Community fights to protect integrity of Oberlin Village
Published Tuesday, November 4, 2008 | The Triangle Tribune | by Sommer Brokaw
RALEIGH - Neighbors are concerned that a six-story building at Cameron Village shopping center will increase traffic and encroach Oberlin Village, a historically black community.
Fallonia is a big fan of Oberlin Village. Nothing says Raleigh better than this nestled community.
Oberlin Village was founded after the civil war in 1865 when farmland west of Raleigh owned by Lewis Peck was divided into 175 acres bounded by Cameron Park, Glenwood Avenue, Fairmont and Hillsborough streets, and sold to newly freed blacks from slavery. By 1868, Oberlin had 750 residents. The community became a part of Raleigh in 1920. The population started to decline as the Great Depression descended on Oberlin as well as the rest of the country, and aging citizens with no social security lost their property. The next wave of property loss was during the 1950s with the widening of Wade Ave.
Nibbled around the edges, property lost for roads, the park, and office buildings, we are down to remnants.
Fallonia believes the the greatest danger to the integrity of Raleigh's heart is Not Paying Attention. If powers that be wrestle publicly with the past, the present, and the future, informed decisons will at least be made with intention. This is why process is so important.
Raleigh is traveling down a slippery slope with blinders on. We need more Community Involvement, not less, to make this the City we say we want to be. These are not NIMBY issues, but historical issues. Once the heart and the history are replaced with generic development, where will we be? Who will we be? Are we who we envision being?
CITY OF RALEIGH
2007-2009 RALEIGH CITY COUNCIL MISSION STATEMENT
We are a 21st Century City of Innovation focusing on environmental, cultural and economic sustainability.
We conserve and protect our environmental resources through best practices and cutting edge conservation and stewardship, land use, infrastructure and building technologies.
We welcome growth and diversity through policies and programs that will protect, preserve and enhance Raleigh's existing neighborhoods, natural amenities, rich history, and cultural and human resources for future generations. We lead to develop an improved neighborhood quality of life and standard of living for all our citizens.
We work with our universities, colleges, citizens and regional partners to promote emerging technologies, create new job opportunities and cultivate local businesses and entrepreneurs.
We recruit and train a 21st Century staff with the knowledge and skill sets to carry out this mission, through transparent civic engagement and providing the very best customer service to our current citizens in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.
Adopted: June 3, 2008
Turning our need for a community conversation into a political hot potato is another way of ignoring the issues. To be part of the conversation is to be a part of improving our future, not a roadblock to it.
Judith Guest, executive director of the Latta House Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes the history of the Latta House, which is a part of Oberlin Village, disagrees. "It's not that we're against development," she said. "The main thing is it needs to have some further review prior to the city saying there's a free pass to ignore the Wade/Oberlin small area plan."
Continuing to project that neighborhood groups are against development is misleading, untruthful and downright damaging to our collective future. We all rise or fall by decisions made by individuals, business interests, and the communities that support them. Thinking long and hard, and aloud, is required before we displace more of our valuable long-term residents.
It is a one-way street from destroying the past to an unconnected future. Planning is the process by which we do better.