The legislature appropriated money for planning; now the community wants to make sure its many voices are heard. Fevin Gerezgiher reports.
This session, the legislature approved $6.2 million for preliminary planning for a land bridge over I-94 in the Rondo neighborhood. As Feven Gerezgiher reports, community members want to make sure they’re consulted.
The land bridge wouldt reconnect the historic Black neighborhood of Rondo, which was torn apart by the highway’s construction in the 1960s. Marivn Anderson co-founded and chairs ReConnect Rondo, the nonprofit leading the land bridge initiative. He said the idea formed when county officials asked for community input on long-needed improvements.
“You take any major American city in the United States and you will likely find a historically black neighborhood that has been demolished, or cut into, or divided, cut off from the rest of the city by a highway,” Anderson said. “Those transportation dollars belong to us. We never got the 40 acres and a mule.”
Anderson said the land bridge would create up to 27 acres of housing, business, and recreational opportunities for the Black community. The funds will go towards conducting impact analyses and community engagement.
For some community members, however, the legacy of large-scale public works projects in the area – like I-94 itself – creates doubt around a land bridge. Joyce Dondson Williams expressed her concern at a community meeting earlier this week.
“I remember Rondo, I remember the freeway being torn,” she said. “ I also remember how the neighborhood was not notified and told the truth about the light rail.”
The meeting was organized by a group called Preserve Rondo.
Third-generation Rondo homeowner Susanne Lovejoy is concerned about gentrification and displacement as a result of the project.
“Where are the convincing factors, not idealistic dreams of black utopia, but concrete studies, findings that this will be good for descendants of Rondo or black people in general,” she asked.
Both ReConnect Rondo and Preserve Rondo are seeking more community input online and at upcoming meetings.
For the Racial Reckoning project, I’m Feven Gerezgiher.
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