Published: Thursday, January 31, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 at 4:29 p.m.
Another brand new year, 2008, is now upon us. Many in our community will look back on 2007 and recall the highs and lows, joys and sorrows, senseless tragedies and unbelievable stories that captivated us.
For example, who will ever forget the now-infamous catch phrase, “Don’t tase me, bro!”
As a community leader and minister, I was personally involved in several important issues and events left unresolved at the end of 2007. Decisions not made at the end of the year, and projects not approved, are still in the discussion and debate phase. They can be summed up by the simple term, “unfinished business.”
In 2008, decisions, or at least some tangible progress, must be made.
The former Kennedy Homes complex, which I became personally involved with during the crisis of 2003, is a perfect example of important unfinished business.
As many know, the city bought the property and the buildings were torn down in 2007. The land was cleared for a brand new development, but no decision has yet been made as to what will replace Kennedy Homes.
I call on city leaders to move ahead and have something beautiful and functional rise up from the dirt and sand. Until this is done, there will be no sense of closure for many, especially the former residents, who went through fires, gas leaks, falling ceilings and emotional anguish.
Other items in the “unfinished business” category include the issue of growth, or the lack thereof. For example, there is the still vacant site of what one day will be University Corners at SW 13th Street and University Avenue.
Some of our roads are still in disrepair. East Gainesville is still in need of continued attention, even with the coming of the super Wal-Mart on Waldo Road and other projects.
There is a glaring imbalance in our school system, with schools and students in east Gainesville being neglected and disrespected. The scales must be shifted in 2008 so that all students of Alachua County get the best education they can. And in these schools, black history must be a strong and major part of the lesson plans.
There is unfinished business in the area of affordable housing and the incarceration rate for black men and boys. There is still the issue of property taxes and how they will effect Alachua County residents.
Many more items could be mentioned, but space will not permit it here. However, I would like to end with the ongoing issue of homelessness and whether the One-Stop Center will be established in Gainesville.
There have been meetings, discussions, forums, rallies, protests and more for may years now. In 2007, often heated discussion and debate centered around the proposed center. The year 2007 ended, but not the controversy.
While the homeless people of Gainesville wait and struggle to survive, the meetings go on. While the homeless take life one day at a time, some in our community refer to them as “scumbags” and “criminals.”
This is one piece of unfinished business that has been unfinished for too many years. In 2008, local officials must be bold and decisive. I respectfully urge that our city and county leaders, and others who are able to have a positive influence, work together toward positive resolutions.
In 2008, we can move forward and get things done if we get beyond egos, turf guarding and hostility. It can be a year of moving ideas from words, meetings and written agendas to finished results.
To do any less would fly in the face of progress.
The Rev. Milford Lewis Griner is chair and founder of the Rosa Parks “Quiet Courage” Committee.
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