Community Submissions

HODGES: Eminent Plan or Eminent Strife? Small town redevelopment brings big time decisions.

HodgesOp-Ed by Treva Hodges  |

Susette Kelo’s story began much like many people you meet at the Jay C Store, dine next to at Charlestown Pizza, or sit by in church on Sunday. Like many of us in Charlestown, Susette lived a “blue collar” lifestyle that consisted of long work days as a paramedic and short weekends dominated by projects around her home. In fact, Susette’s home was a place of refuge and recovery. Following a messy divorce from a horrible marriage, Susette bought a modest run-down cottage in an affordable neighborhood, and took great pride in fixing her home up with her own hands. This little pink house with a gorgeous view of the water in New London, Connecticut was truly one of a kind, and Susette was finally at peace.

While Susette worked to rebuild her life, the city around her struggled. New London suffered from a sagging economy and leaders worried over possible answers. Governor Aaron Douglas came up with a solution that altered Susette’s life forever. Under the guise of redevelopment, Governor Douglas courted major drug manufacturer, Pfizer, and offered great incentives to the company if it would build a facility in New London. Pfizer agreed, and decided Susette’s neighborhood would be the perfect location. Suddenly, Susette emerged as a leader reluctantly drafted into a fight to save her home, her neighborhood, and her way of life. Susette’s case against the City of New London drew national attention and disgust as a vast majority of Americans empathized with her fear of losing the home and life that she worked so hard to obtain.

New London could just as easily be Charlestown these days, and Susette could be your co-worker, neighbor, or friend.

As we work to revive our own sagging economy in anticipation of predicted growth, we have difficult questions to answer about how redevelopment works and what strategies are both ethical and effective. There are multiple sides to any story. Susette Kelo’s tale gives us a lot to think about. Should it be legal to force people to relocate from their homes and neighborhoods if doing so might help the local economy?

On June 30, 2018 at 8:00 pm we all have an opportunity to learn more about Susette and her struggle to keep her home when Little Pink House screens at the home of Harold and JoAnn Goodlett located at 943 Monroe Street. The event is FREE and open to the public with snacks provided at 8:00 and the film presentation at 8:30pm.

Regardless of where you think you fall on the spectrum of belief about eminent domain, redevelopment, or Charlestown’s current action in Pleasant Ridge, please come out to this event. It promises to be an informative and thought provoking evening that helps us imagine what it feels like to watch bulldozers tear down the house next door in the name of economic recovery.

Opinion by Treva Hodges, a Charlestown resident who manages and writes for Talking Poli(tics) is a site that shares information on issues concerning the residents of Charlestown, Indiana.


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