Community Impact hosts neighborhood celebration in Chattanooga

Community Impact hosts neighborhood celebration in Chattanooga

January 10th, 2012 by Yolanda Putman in News

Community Impact Executive Director Bettyelynn Smith, right center, talks with Jack Murrah on Monday night at The Chattanoogan. Warren E. Logan Jr. is at right.

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

Community Impact highlights

  • Community Impact led the successful effort to convert M.L. King Boulevard and McCallie Avenue to two-way streets to support revitalization of their neighborhoods.

  • Community Impact partner organizations led the effort to establish the Family Partnership Specialist Program in Hamilton County School

  • Residents of Community Impact neighborhoods successfully lobbied for zoning policy changes in their respective neighborhoods, a strategy to promote homebuyer investment.

Source: Community Impact of Chattanooga Inc.

Inspirational soul music sounded throughout the conference room at The Chattanoogan hotel Monday as more than 150 Community Impact officials, supporters and residents gathered to celebrate progress toward better communities.

"This is about change," said Joyce Correthers, former president of the Churchville Neighborhood Association.

Representatives from seven communities once plagued with prostitution, drug deals and violence talked of how their areas have improved with the help of the nonprofit that poured millions of dollars and expertise into seven inner-city communities. The organization, founded in 1999, is scheduled to disband in March 2012.

"It's really a celebration when any nonprofit can declare themselves going out of business because we have reached some milestones," said Community Impact founding board Chairman Warren E. Logan Jr.

Executive Director BettyeLynn Smith showed a documentary produced by WTCI-TV Channel 45 that highlighted the organization's accomplishments.

Community Impact recruited and trained more than 160 neighborhood leaders to manage neighborhood threats and support revitalization efforts. Residents collaborated with the Chattanooga Police Department to eliminate more than 50 crime hot spots. And Community Impact, with guidance from neighborhood leaders, eliminated 79 blighted properties in the seven communities. The properties were purchased and held for redevelopment that is in line with revitalization plans.

"They were like the missing glue that our community needed to pull us together," said LeMonte P. Vaughn, president of the Orchard Knob Neighborhood Association. "They did that by educating the neighborhoods about responsibility and leadership."

Community Impact was created after city leaders became concerned about inner-city neighborhoods that might have been left out of Chattanooga's downtown revitalization.

"We felt that the city had made progress but people were left behind," said Jack Murrah, current board chairman and president of the Lyndhurst Foundation. The Lyndhurst Foundation was among several funders for the nonprofit.

While Chattanooga heralded its downtown and riverfront revitalization, the city's urban core still had high crime rates and properties in disrepair, according to the organization's news release.

Community Impact's goal was to take a comprehensive, community-driven approach to revitalizing inner-city communities.

Seven neighborhoods were selected in two groups. Bushtown, Highland Park, M.L. King and Southside Historic District were among the first group. Churchville, Glenwood and Orchard Knob were the second group. Officials said the neighborhoods were chosen because they had active residents willing to be involved in change efforts and revitalization.

Now several community leaders are concerned about how their communities will fare with Community Impact no longer being involved.

"What we received from them will enable us to sustain ourselves," said Vaughn. "But they will be missed greatly. I hope somebody picks up that banner."

Said Correthers, "They taught people how to do better, a lot of education. The structure they intended was very good. Now it's left up to the neighborhood associations."

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