This week’s Atlanticville ran a story talking about one of the remaining holdouts in the Long Branch Broadway Arts redevelopment project. What I found upsetting about the article (and thus my impetus to write this post) is what the Atlanticville either forgot or chose not to add in this article. From the article:
A city minister will have until July to find a new place to call home and a new building where he can practice his ministry.
State Superior Court Judge Lawrence M. Lawson denied Broadway resident Kevin Brown a stay of the city’s use of eminent domain to take the building where he lives to make way for the Broadway redevelopment project.
Brown has also been trying to establish a place of worship in the building at 162 Broadway for more than a decade. The building is owned by The Lighthouse Mission and is located in the Broadway Corridor redevelopment zone.
This little blurb provides a decent background on the situation in Long Branch. And what an outrage it seems, right? Here is a Pastor who is trying to establish a place of worship for his congregation and attem — wait. There IS a congregation that is being displaced, right? Back to the article…
Brown has been battling the city for more than 10 years to open the Lighthouse Mission Church at the Broadway location.
So there isn’t an actual mission located at this location? There isn’t an actual place of worship that is waiting to open its doors? Hmmm… When I mix that up with other information that the Asbury Park Press has run on this story and you’re talking about a different story entirely.
Instead of a Pastor, his congregation, and his mission being ousted from their only home we have a Pastor with no congregation and no mission being removed from this building. And what of this building? A recent Asbury Park Press article talked about how this building was vacant on the first floor (the proposed location of the mission) and how the Pastor lived upstairs.
Folks, there are a conglomeration of financial institutions who WANT to infuse this area of Long Branch with money, economic advancement opportunities for residents (i.e. jobs), affordable housing options, and artistic/entertainment space. And this plan has not been able to go through because of a non-existent mission and a liquor store?! This is why it takes decades for any real change to happen in our communities.
I’m as much against eminent domain as the next guy. I think it’s vulgar that in the great American political experiment we’ve allowed a pro forma increase in tax revenues to replace existing taxpayers and homeowners. We’re not supposed to operate that way in this country. Yet, this is also a country where we try to work in the best interests of each other. When an entire area is asking for redevelopment, asking for an infusion of private, non-taxpayer money, and asking for their community to get a face-lift, then we should be for that change. In other words, just as strongly as we defend our rights to own our property without eminent domain, we should be fighting just as strongly against lone holdouts in these projects who have questionable ideas on the possibility for their future development.
The Broadway Arts Center project needs to get moving and it needs to get moving immediately. I wish Godspeed to Pastor Brown in finding a place to live in this crazy market (though $450,000 will find you a great place in a nice area of Long Branch) and I admire Pastor Brown’s use of the legal system to plead his case at any and all levels of the judiciary, but now is the time to move forward.