The carrot or the stick: JD revitalization

The Bensley community is not only worried about their neighborhood; they are extremely concerned about the Jefferson Davis corridor. In its current state it is bringing their property values down.

Chesterfield Planning Commissioner, Dale Patton, was a guest speaker at the Bensley Association meeting last week. The group was eager to hear how county funds and the revitalization plan could help them clean up the corridor and sustain their property values, while keeping their neighborhoods safe.

 “This will have to be a free market effort.” Commercial real estate brokers will have to list and sell the properties.

Mr. Patton had a lot of ideas for the Bensley group, but said revitalization will have to be done with a carrot and a stick.

“Dangle the carrot on a stick and get someone interested in making some money here,” Patton said. “You can’t beat them with a stick trying to get them to fix up their property. You must make it worth their while.”

Patton said that the revitalization plan has been put on a shelf for now, and there wasn’t any funding in this year’s budget for revitalization. He said that may change when the Commission looks at it later this year. Patton continued that he thought County Administrator Jay Stegmaier was interested in revitalization.

“I would put it in a more positive way,” said Carl Schlaudt, Chesterfield Planning Manager. “It’s still in play, but I’m not sure where the process will lead.”

Schlaudt and his team have been working a revitalization strategy for some time, in addition to a number of other projects on his plate.

“Until you have someone in charge at the county, you’re not going to get anywhere,” said Renee Eldred, president of the group.

But Patton reiterated that there are really no county solutions to the problems on the corridor. He suggests the free market strategy, which potential commercial real estate companies could come in and list properties. “There are a lot of opportunities on Jefferson Davis Highway,” Patton said. Someone could make some money here. He asked how many properties have for sale signs on them.

“None,” responded several seated in front of Patton. “Then you have to find some,” he said.

Village News asked a rhetorical question. “Isn’t it true that there is more tax dollars coming out of Bermuda District than any other?” Many in the group chimed in with figures and place where big business was paying a lot of taxes.

Ms. Eldred stated exactly what Dupont Fibers paid in taxes. Patton responded that the taxes had to be spread across the county. Some members of the group responded in jest that Bermuda should secede from the county.

While Patton focused on the Jefferson Davis corridor, which would be a possible way to revitalize the area, Schlaudt disagreed. He told the Village News that revitalization should start in the neighborhoods.

But this could be a conundrum; start on the corridor and you provide the clean entrance to neighborhoods, however, revitalizing the neighborhood may bring property values up but not to the point in which both corridor revitalization of neighborhood restoration might bring.  

The homes in Bensley neighborhoods have been turning over to rentals. And integration is taking place. The Hispanics, “take very good care of their property,” said Jim Ruppel, a Bensley resident.

“Maybe the Hispanic community could be thought of as part of our community,” Susan Ruppel continued.

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