Chris Anderson Has Done Plenty For Alton Park

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Three years ago today, I was canvassing in Alton Park. President Obama called for a day of action to help educate people about the Affordable Care Act and Chris Anderson responded by mobilizing his campaign volunteers to spread the word in the places in his district that needed it most.  

I moved here a little over three years ago and the entire time I've worked with Chris on his various efforts to help our community. We've been to clean-ups,neighborhood reunions, and dozens of community meetings. At Chris' direction, I've researched environmental hazards both known and unknown. I've fielded calls for street lights and more police patrols, and hunted down which houses were abandoned and needed city attention. Chris has toured Piney Woods with neighborhood leaders creating a list of needs from trash pick-up to pot holes that need filling.  

So, this past weekend, I was shocked to hear someone in St. Elmo ask me what Chris had done for Alton Park. Apparently, this is a new theme in the election. I responded that, for starters, he's actually been there. You see, Alton Park, in theory, has a dozen politicians who count them as voters. Chris (and the mayor, honestly) are the only ones I've ever seen actually there. It's easy to throw money at Alton Park - indeed, more roads there have been paved, more sidewalks built, and more streetlights have gone in the past four years than the previous dozen - but the hardest part is actually communicating with the residents. Chris has tried his best to do that by actually being in as many rooms and events there as possible.  

I know Chris is proud of the new park they are building on 38th - a project he's been working on since he was first elected. But, really, it's the little things there that have mattered the most. Alton Park is a food desert and so Chris helped get the Mobile Market to come once a week. He's also working with home builders and developers to increase density enough to make a permanent food store more viable. 

Alton Park does have a crime a problem - though not nearly as bad as most people think - and Chris has responded by working with Chief Fletcher on a number of ideas: traffic calming on rough streets to slow down criminals, working with city inspectors to make sure dens of crime masquerading as businesses are shut down, and connecting critical intersections with the new Real-Time Intelligence Unit. Of course, those are reactive and Chris knows that to address crime you need to be proactive. So, increasing funding for the YFD centers, after school programs, and job training have all been priorities. 

But, I go back to the communication part of this because it is the hardest most time consuming part of being a councilman. God bless the St. Elmo email list because it makes things easy. Half the time when someone reports a problem on the neighbors email list, Chris has already made a call to the right department head before someone can respond to the email. Unfortunately, Alton Park doesn't have that. Communication there is slower, more individual-focused, and takes tenacity.  

I'm proud of the work Chris has done in Alton Park (and East Lake, St. Elmo, Mainstreet, Downtown and the Westside. Indeed, I could write paragraphs about each of those, as well, but in St. Elmo I hear about Alton Park more than anywhere). Not everything was successful - if any of these problems were easy then elections would be superfluous. But, I know Chris and the rest of the administration learned from mistakes and are working on other ideas and solutions. I know they are working with neighborhood leaders to get the community's buy-in. It's a long process, but it's worth the time and hard work and Chris is committed to it. Anyone who has worked with Chris knows that.  

Many of people are supporters, some are not. I'm not here to arguing every last point. I am merely here to say that if anyone asks the question. "What has Chris done for Alton Park" the answer is 'quite a lot'. 

Billy Joyner
St. Elmo 


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