Since Usher is my favorite, we have his rendition of Marvin Gaye’s song, Mercy, Mercy Me. I know the song is about the environment, but he kept singing in my ear as I considered writing this post on the impact of crime in Rocky Mount. Click on the song link above, and you will agree that the song is a soulful reflection of what we are asking. What is going on?
I wrote about the Carlton House in the last post and talked about Knox White, the mayor of Greenville SC. If the majority vote on Rocky Mount’s City Counsel would get their priorities straight, the city manager could honestly repeat this Knox White quote. “We implemented a strategy to attract developer interest. By ensuring that downtown was clean and safe with emerging entertainment and dining options, people began to see it as a place to live and not just visit.”
Troy Davis and others creating living spaces downtown, indeed, every business, should be all over the leadership about the crime problem that will impact their ability to sell the quality apartments they are creating. It will affect other services available in the downtown area.
My favorite expression when considering the ‘My will Be Done’ agenda is a certainty that it is always bass-ackward. A Hotel, a parking garage, and low-income housing on ECC’s parking lots are the definition of putting the cart before the horse. It is the preservation, restoration, and repurposing of the significant architectural inventory in the historic downtown area that is the prioritity; core assets that have been allowed to deteriorate. The commercial buildings have long needed emergency triage and immediate protection. Is it any wonder there is the outrage over selfish schemes that are served up as necessities and payback?
I think of the older lady I talked to in the middle of Pine St. She said, “Honey, nothin’ gonna change until you get the crime out of here.” That is her reality, and she encouraged me to get along home before dark. The hotel and parking garage takes priority over the people who live with neglect and false promises at election time. I include a video made in 2013, a powerful visual link that has surfaced. It could have been filmed today. The video has Usher’s cry all over it. Mercy, Mercy Me-What’s Goin’ on?
Unless personal gain is your priority, it is not difficult to see how important controlling crime in the neighborhoods and downtown is to a successful outcome. If the ‘My Will Be Done’ folks would commit to zero crime tolerance, the emerging scene downtown will bear fruit. Short of a Damascus Road conversion, it is like the AA premise: you can’t reason with a person who still drinks and you can’t reason with people who have learned how to rig the system and like it. Let us continue to work towards the next election, where four seats are available. Each of these seats must have a commitment to Rocky Mount’s basic needs: significant crime reduction, safe neighborhoods, restored housing, education, and jobs.
Troy Davis is a long way down the road from these photographs I took early on. He is creating 32 apartments above street level in two buildings on Main Street that were allowed to deteriorate because ordinances weren’t enforced on cronies who owned the buildings. The renewed concept of living above the store is a great step forward. The accredited cities I mentioned in the last post follow the Main Street program. The apartments I have seen, and written about, made me covet the convenience, and the lifestyle. Without crime reduction, Troy and others will suffer the consequences of potential residents and customers with safety concerns. This must not happen. This financial risk and that of other brave-hearts helping to save Main Street are essential. Those who are planting their flags around town are heroes. We have confidence in the men and women in law enforcement. Let them do the jobs they are trained for. Forget the latest bright idea, a revised development agency and a new hire to further the personal gain skullduggery. What is needed is leadership and a will to declare crime will no longer be tolerated. Clampdown, concentrate within an area with known crime until it is driven out and kept out. Let law enforcement prevail.
I’m thinking of John Jesso today. I first met him when I went to his office to inquire about starting the blog, Main Street Rocky Mount. Would I be stepping on anyone’s toes? John listened to my ideas and without hesitation, said, “I would love your help in highlighting the beautiful story of Rocky Mount.” 316 published posts later, John remains my cheer leader. His friendship is precious to me. When I came across the idea of a Codega, I knew immediately that this concept applied to John; then the Downtown Development Manager of Rocky Mount.
“In Venice in the Middle Ages there was a profession for a man called a codega. – a fellow you hired to walk in front of you at night with a lit lantern, showing you the way, scaring off thieves and demons, bringing you confidence and protection throughout the dark streets.”
John remains Rocky Mount’s tireless codega. He continues to hold his lantern high, showing all who come our way the possibilities that Rocky Mount offers. He has always had great confidence in the future of Rocky Mount. In the next chapter of his life he brings his expertise to Chambliss Rabil Commercial Reality. John and his partner Lee Mears, have in recent months effected the sale, lease or have under management in downtown alone over 165,000 square feet of space. One of my Main Street heroes, is Troy White, with all the saving and repurposing of buildings on Main and Howard Street that he is working on. We have not met although I feel I know Troy through John Jesso.
I asked Troy for a quote I could use to illustrate John’s continual pursuit of investors who are central to the “repairing of the breach.” Here is the lovely answer I received. It proves my point that John remains the Codega of Main Street who brings a man like Troy White to the community. Thank You, John! Thank you Troy for this comment and sweet thoughts, which I did not include but appreciate!
John and I met through a mutual friend that I was doing a favor for. The friend asked me to assist him in looking over a building he was interested in purchasing in Rocky Mount. We were both living in Durham and he knew John and scheduled a meeting to view the building and brought me along for my professional opinion. We met John in front of 202 Main st. That was where and how I was introduced to and met John. He and I would hit it off and he would invite me back to Rockymount to take a look at some of the other buildings in the downtown area. I fell hard for the two sister buildings on Howard St. They were in horrible shape but I could see the potential. I would later talk to some clients of mine about 202 Howard St. and they purchased that building as well. Since that time I have periodically come to Rockymount and my relationship with John grew stronger every trip. Now I consider him a true friend and I am overwhelmed with all of the possibilities for the future of Rockymount. Since then, many other friends of mine have purchased property in Rockymount and plan to either develop or move to Rockymount as I do.
Well Stepheny, thats the short but complete version. I look forward to meeting you and I want to thank you for all of the support you have given me and my team. I look forward to meeting you soon. You are so beautiful to me as well. Smile.