East Birmingham stakeholders discuss at community meeting

By Jonathan Hardison

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - More than a dozen elected officials and community leaders answered questions from east Birmingham homeowners and businesses about what the city and county are doing to try and revitalize a once-busy business corridor.

Many shopping areas along Parkway East currently have thriving business, but they sit right next door to boarded up doors and "for sale" or "lease" signs.

"We need something bad. I've been living here about 50 years...since 1959, and I've seen a lot of it go. And nothing's coming back right now, so we need some help," said Bobby Wood, an East Lake area homeowner.     

Wood drives by these abandoned stores everyday and says he came to the first east Birmingham summit Monday night to see if there was any hope of seeing life in these buildings again.

"We've got wonderful passion about what it is we're trying to do, and that's to get our community cleaned up, attract those businesses that once was here," said Councilor Lashunda Scales, who hosted the summit. She represents much of east Birmingham.

Scales says keeping the area clean and safe with the help of police will go a long way in helping sell the eastern area to prospective new tenants.

Wood adds "We need some security, but we need shoppers too. If we build business, we need people to support it."

"As soon as you get off the interstate, you're right into the heart of Disrict 1," Scales said. "So we have a lot of good selling points, and I think we're densely populated enough to where any business would want to come to the eastern area."

Said Mayor William Bell, "We've got to have a marketing plan. We've got to not be afraid to go to the place where those decisions are made.
Oftentimes those in the media criticize us for making trips to the development meetings in and around the country, but that's where the deals are made and we've got to be more proactive than we have in the past."

Bell added the police department has worked up a safety plan specifically for the east Birmingham area and he says the city is working on individual marketing plans for specific areas of the city, including one for east Birmingham. Those should be publicized within the next few months.

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