While conflicting interests in construction and housing are at the forefront of the neighborhood association’s conflict with the City Council, Blair said development is not the issue. Most of her group’s work has been to improve the area through development while preserving structures currently in place.
She said all the association wants is to have a seat at the table –– a say in which developers come into the neighborhood –– and to be part of an open dialogue with contractors.
To do their job, Blair said her group needs “equal access to information.”
Blair was sad when she learned of the June 28 City Council vote. That sadness was reflected in her expression. She said ignorance and bad public relations have made the area appear worse than it is, even among city councilmembers.
“As a community, we have always been second-class citizens,” Blair said.
What is most disheartening, she said, is that she and other association members voted for Bivens. They campaigned for her, going door-to-door and canvassing for her. Now Blair feels like they were used.
“We voted for someone, and they don’t represent us,” she said, her voice softening in emphasis.
A silence fell over us. Only the cicadas could be heard –– even Blair’s Hamilton playlist, which had flavored our last hour of conversation, had gone silent.
As Blair finished her story, the sound of the hit musical returned. The lyrics to “Rise Up” seemed to emphasize the passion in her eyes. Her determination gleamed past the frustration she was clearly feeling throughout our interview, piercing through her every word.
Somehow, despite her exhaustion, Blair’s expression softened when she spoke of the future. There was another neighborhood meeting that night, she said, when her team would have time to review recent events and strengthen the group’s position in the future.
“Right now, I’m excited,” she said with a smile, eyes still sharp and direct. “We have reached a juncture in this journey where now I get to see what [the City Council] saw.”
Blair and her neighbors across Stop Six: Sunrise Edition are still planning their next move. She said she is sure her community will come back strong, and there is still hope in her heart –– a hope that the historic designation gave her.
Quoting the local seniors who inspired her efforts, Blair leaned forward slightly.
“It’s part of the fight,” she said, stressing every word. “It’s part of the journey. Keep on pushing.”