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Let's Make Newark Beautiful...Together

My remarks before City Council tonight:

"We have a lot to look forward to in the coming years. After a few frustrating months of not being able to use part of South Second Street, one has to admit that the work done so far was worth the wait. It is clear from what we’ve seen so far that the downtown area is about to look incredibly beautiful. With that in mind, I have to reiterate my plea that we remember to look beyond this worthwhile project on the square. Each corner of Newark ought to be included in this beautification and revitalization; especially the poorest sections.

To some, it may seem like a waste of taxpayer dollars to invest in making our city look better or devoting funds for recreational purposes like restoring the public pool and our numerous parks. Truth is, a community that wants to grow while attracting new jobs and making itself an appealing place to call home must consider the quality of life as a factor in their vision moving forward. Businesses want to set up shop where they see optimism as portrayed by a locale’s appearance and how the citizens thereof interact with one another. Likewise, people tend to prefer an atmosphere conducive for friendly, safe socialization.

How about reaching out to the citizens living in the downtrodden neighborhoods of Newark? For instance, what would the inhabitants of the East End like to see? Are they satisfied with only having Everett’s Park and the basketball court? Surely there is more that we can do to strengthen the sense of community between the bridge and the basket.

As a proud South Ender, I have to say that I enjoy having the baseball park nearby as well as Moundbuilders on the border with Heath. Even so, I would like to see more done to enhance the quality of life for us as well. Earlier this year, I spoke with an older gentleman who reminisced about a time when boxcar racing was a regular tradition on South Second Street. Yet another fellow citizen, closer to my age, recently expressed to me his desire to see a youth center in the area. The point of their valuable input is that we can do more to reinvigorate Newark’s vibrant community spirit.

Our city’s disadvantaged should have a slice of the progress pie. When looking forward it would be best that we not look past the men, women, and children who work hard in unstable jobs, who struggle to pay for their basic needs – not to mention enjoying the finer things in life like a decent birthday or holiday celebration -, who deal with the daily fear of having utilities shut off or getting evicted, and who’ve had to endure the elements as a victim of homelessness. These people, like the prized Middle Class, need us to care about and listen to them. Involving the weakest in our growth will make us all stronger in the end.

Molding a better, more beautiful, and more hopeful future for our city involves more than making adjustments to the external appearance of the city’s physical heart. While making these improvements serves an important role in moving us forward, the act of beautifying a community on the outside is meaningless if we do nothing to connect our vision with the city’s spirit as found in how each individual citizen perceives their role. Let us pursue a course where we actively seek to infect every corner of this city with the optimism we feel in this room. The people, particularly those who are quite used to being overlooked, deserve to be partners in this revitalization campaign."

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