Susan Maruyama, a resident of Raleigh, sent the following email to the Mayor and City Council on Wednesday, October 21.
Dear Mayor and City Council members,
I listened to the City Council meeting yesterday and was struck by the cavalier attitude of Bonner Gaylord on behalf of John Kane’s company during the Public Comment section. I heard his list of “outreach” efforts. The Southeast Raleigh community knows these efforts were not genuine and were undertaken so he could tick off the boxes like he did yesterday. Please realize that the efforts taken pre-COVID on this project really are not relevant today.
Mr. Gaylord messed up, but the Mayor was only too willing to give him the help he needed to finish his presentation. This gesture appeared to be collusion to me. The Mayor being nice during public comment to anyone is always suspicious but this gesture to save Bonner Gaylord’s message said volumes about what the Mayor is really interested in.
I would urge you to reset your approach to the Downtown South project. If this project is to succeed you will want to have the Southeast Raleigh Community’s participation and buy-in. A formal Community Benefit Agreement must be worked out. A Memorandum of Understanding is not sufficient.
This is a huge project that will affect Raleigh forever. Why not make it a positive venture that everyone is excited about because it actually improves the lives of the residents in Southeast Raleigh and the rest of the city?
Please listen to me. The world and our priorities have changed since COVID-19 has destroyed the way we live our lives and it has gutted our local economy. This project has the appearance of being an out-of-touch vanity project. Why not delay it a couple of years? The people of Raleigh and surrounding towns are NOT thinking about the joy that two 40-story towers will bring to the city. Nor are they excited about an ill-defined stadium when no one can imagine crowding into any public venue for years to come.
The people of Raleigh want to survive this current crisis. A smart move might be to go all in on real affordable housing for those most in need and build up some credibility with the community. I am talking an “all-in” commitment that can be pointed to with pride by all. Use this credibility to then build a relationship with the community to evaluate the opportunities and value of a Downtown South project
You can read more details about the Downtown South project here. I’ll Grab That