Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Misguided Government in Boynton Beach

Boynton Beach City commissioners approved an agreement Tuesday with the Community Redevelopment Agency to take more than a dozen properties in the Heart of Boynton neighborhood through eminent domain. . . .

Rev. Eddie Evans, of the Jesus House of Worship church on Seacrest Boulevard, offered an emotional plea for his property. "My concern is, if you demand that I go from there, where am I going to go?" Evans said. . . .

City officials have been working to revitalize the Heart of Boynton neighborhood for years. The properties along Martin Luther King Jr. and Seacrest boulevards are the first phase of their plan.After the CRA gathers all the properties, it will offer them to developers to build new homes and businesses.

Many of the buildings and empty lots that make up the area serve as gathering places for drug dealers and other criminals, city officials and residents say. "If we do not go forward with this plan, the situation that this community has been living with will continue," said Quintus Greene, the city's director of development.

It’s curious that the justification for taking the properties is that doing so will rid the neighborhood of drug and criminal activity resulting from the availability of abandoned buildings. Yet it is not only the abandoned buildings being taken, it is also the Jesus House of Worship church. I’m pretty confident the church doesn’t serve as stomping ground for drug and criminal activity.

I think the Boynton Beach government has confused its role here. Their role is not to centrally plan the economy. If the neighborhood is plagued with criminal activity, it is the role of government to catch those criminals and hold them accountable for their crimes. Simply taking over the neighborhood and redeveloping it to cater to a more affluent group only serves to displace those individuals engaged in criminal activity. Redeveloping the neighborhood does not kill the criminals or turn them into law abiding citizens; it merely provides incentive for the criminals to move the location of their activities elsewhere.

Then what? Invoke the power of eminent domain again?

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