FAIRBORN ─ The City of Fairborn is expanding its efforts to revitalize neighborhoods throughout the city by developing a housing strategy that will benefit city residents.
Fairborn City Manager Rob Anderson said during the July 10 council work session that the city would focus first on the Wrightview neighborhood, located south of Kauffman Avenue and southwest of West Funderburg Road. Anderson said the city needs an effective plan as it begins working with landlords and homeowners in this neighborhood.
“We need to establish ourselves in the neighborhood, and introduce ourselves to the folks who live there,” Anderson said. “We need to make sure that they are part of this process, and that they help us decide what needs to be done in their neighborhood with housing.”
Anderson pointed out that the Wrightview area consists of a variety of properties, including rental properties, multiple family units, and individually-owned housing. He introduced Pastor Chris Tannreuther who he described as a great resource of the city.
“Chris Tannreuther, who is a pastor at a nearby church, is familiar with this neighborhood and with a lot of the folks who live there,” Anderson said. “So, we enlisted his help to come up with some ideas to get our message out and invite those folks to a block party or a forum.”
According to Anderson, there are approximately 14 churches in the Wrightview area, which would be a good source of contact with the community.
Tannreuther, who is the pastor at Maple Height Baptist Church, suggested holding an informational meeting at a local park, school, or church.
“We need to come up with some creative ideas to say we would like to hear you. We would like to help you. We would like to support you and your needs,” Tannreuther said.
The pastor also proposed throwing a neighborhood block party that would be exclusively for Wrightview residents. He also recommended reaching out to other neighborhood churches and asking local church leaders to become involved in the city’s housing revitalization effort.
“If the people are well informed, they can then make an informed decision,” said Tannreuther.
City Council member Tim Steininger said he liked Tannreuther ideas. However, the city needs to take the initiative while working with the pastor and other church leaders in the area.
“This would be a city meeting that is city sponsored and city paid for. The churches would support us by hosting the events and getting out the message,” Steininger said. “It is the matter of who is bringing the message.”
City Council member Marilyn McCauley also agreed that the support of the neighborhood churches would help the city’s housing strategy move forward.
“I think a lot of those citizens have lived there a long time,” McCauley said. “Without the support of the neighborhood churches, they will not trust the city.”
Fairborn Mayor Dan Kirkpatrick inquired about how invitations to the events would go out to the Wrightview community. Tannreuther suggested placing a notice on the community boards at all the neighborhood apartment complexes. He also proposed placing a notice on the water bill, passing out fliers throughout the Wrightview area and using social media.
Steininger pointed out that the city needs to establish a specific message before it can reach out to members of the Wrightview community.
“The point of this discussion when we started it was housing improvement and housing enhancement. In order for us to do that, we must have a message,” said Steininger. “I think we got the mechanics of it started, but I am more concerned about what we are going to talk about with the people. My concern is about what the topics will be.”
However, Anderson said city officials first needed to create a good rapport with Wrightview residents and gain their trust. He also noted that the dialogue between city officials and residents would be ongoing throughout the process.
“Our message going in can be that we are interested in improving the housing in this area. How can we help?” Anderson said. “Housing and infrastructure is what we want to talk about. It is a party with a purpose.”
Kirkpatrick said, from his point of view, he would be very pleased to live in a neighborhood that the city had targeted for housing improvements.
“I think there is a real potential here, especially if the churches are involve,” Kirkpatrick said. “The message is ‘what are your housing concerns,’ not ‘what are your needs.’”
McCauley also suggested that city officials provide information about the different city programs available to citizens, such as the lending programs.
“We have some good programs that these citizens can tap into,” said McCauley.
Anderson wrapped up the discussion by noting that city officials would continue to move forward with the city’s housing strategy.
“I believe that we all agree that we need to stay on message and focus on the housing issues in the Wrightview neighborhood,” Anderson said.
Linda Collins is a freelance writer for Greene County News.