ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis County is hoping to breathe new life into property left damaged in the aftermath of the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown.
County officials and residents are backing a new initiative that will raze and rehabilitate several blighted areas in Ferguson and surrounding communities so people are not constantly reminded of the recent turmoil.
"It's a reminder of what never should have happened," said Brenda Taylor, a Ferguson resident. Several streets throughout Ferguson, Dellwood and unincorporated north St. Louis County were ravaged during protests following the Brown shooting.
A press release from St. Louis County reports that the initiative, which allocates $500,000 for demolition and beautification, was presented to the St. Louis County Council by the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership on Tuesday. Partnership CEO Denny Coleman called the move a crucial step in the economic recover of the area.
"It's been very clear in talking to businesses that the view of the burned-out buildings is negatively impacting the whole neighborhood," Coleman said.
The process of seeking bids for the demolition of 18 key structures, which housed about 30 businesses, will begin immediately. And
County Executive, Steve Stenger said they are working with the partnership to find new ways to promote economic development in the area.
Ferguson Mayor James Knowles told the paper that he wants the initiative, which will be funded by the Port Authority, to focus on helping small businesses. The mayor said "this pot of money will work toward helping smaller businesses and what's left over can help the larger businesses."
"I'm tired of looking at it," said Canfield Green resident Rodney Loggins. "Anything is better than looking at that."