COLUMBIA — Columbia's blight discussion will continue to continue.
The city's Enhanced Enterprise Zone Advisory Board decided Wednesday to seek out more community feedback and to look closer at census poverty data in the proposed zones.
More than 50 people attended the board's meeting Wednesday that mostly discussed census poverty data in the proposed zones, particularly the north zone. The proposed north zone is the largest of the two areas and encompasses parts of the Ridgeway and Parkade neighborhoods as well as other neighborhoods surrounding Interstate 70.
At the meeting, the board evaluated data that compared the 2000 census to the 2010 census. The Department of Economic Development will only allow the 2000 census data to be used in determining EEZs because the 2010 census data will not be introduced into their system until 2013.
The board decided to evaluate the north zone as three sections and compile census data for the designated sections. The three zones will be the northeast area along Route B, the central area along U.S. 63 and the southeast area encompassing parts of the Ridgeway and Parkade neighborhoods.
Anthony Stanton, one of the advisory board members, said by breaking up the north zone into three separate groups, the board can better understand the demographics of each area in comparison to the rest of the zone. Stanton said each member of the board has different aspects they want to see in each zone.
"I'm looking for established infrastructure, transportation and public schools," Stanton said.
Jeremy Root, another advisory board member, said the point of looking at the poverty data is to know where it exists, since one of reasons for an EEZ is a "solvency for poverty."
"To come down and encompass those residential neighborhoods along 63 is something I'm not sure the community is ready to do," Root said. "It has the potential to succeed, but we don't want to put the community at an unnecessary risk."
Community members voiced their concerns about blighted neighborhoods, though Stanton tried to make it clear blight will be addressed by the City Council.
The Ridgeway Neighborhood Association distributed a letter at the meeting formally asking First Ward Councilman Fred Schmidt to vote against EEZ. The letter said designating the neighborhood as blighted would undermine the improvements during the past 10 years.
The board plans to discuss the south zone more in depth with the community at its next meeting at 5 p.m. on Nov. 14 at Daniel Boone City Building. The north zone will be further discussed at a later meeting.
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