Clayton News-Star

Clayton aims to fix its neighorhoods

The Town of Clayton this week will launch an ambitious, long-term project to address resident concerns neighborhood by neighborhood.

The town will begin with the neighborhood that surrounds Cooper Elementary School. A neighborhood-improvement meeting to solicit residents’ feedback and perspective is scheduled from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 19, at Mount Vernon Christian Church, 301 N. Lombard St. The town will provide snacks.

The neighborhood east of O’Neil Street and North of Front Street will be the first of 33 neighborhoods invited to air its concerns with town staff. Planning Director David DeYoung said the town wants to hear any and all ideas – from public safety and street concerns to requests for park space and sidewalks.

“The Town Council tasked town staff with defining neighborhood areas that needed improvements,” DeYoung said. “It began during our last redrafting of the comprehensive plan. We held a neighborhood meeting at Cooper Elementary School, where people from the neighborhood talked to us about what they needed. That was the 30,000-feet view; this is on the ground evaluating, dealing with specific issues.”

Project manager Holly Hogg compiled a report on the neighborhood. Among her findings: a need for lighting and missing stretches of sidewalk leading to Cooper Elementary School.

“There are some missing links that could help connect the neighborhood to the elementary school,” she said.

The planning staff’s report on the Cooper neighborhood will serve as the base for Thursday’s meeting, with resident feedback either underscoring those issues or bringing new ones to light.

“We’ve drafted a report and will share our findings with the neighborhood, hoping there’s some concurrences that the things we’re seeing are things they’re seeing too,” DeYoung said.

The Cooper neighborhood is among Clayton’s older neighborhoods. It’s mostly single-family and multifamily homes; three-quarters of all housing is rental.

After the neighborhood meeting, the town will attach priorities to the concerns and then take those before the Town Council for possible action. The priorities will range from “urgent” to “beneficial.” DeYoung said all town departments are involved, from public works repairing sidewalks and streets to the police department analyzing crime and accident reports in neighborhoods.

“Not everything is going to have priority or be addressed,” DeYoung said. “There’s only so much money, so you do what you can.”

Clayton has no timeline for its neighborhood-improvement project, but with an estimate of two to three months per neighborhood, it will take years to complete. DeYoung said the town will complete any quick fixes in one neighborhood before moving on to the next. The town will begin with its oldest neighborhoods and work its way to the newer ones. Some neighborhoods identified for the project have yet to be built, like a section of LionsGate and Bristol at Cobblestone.

Drew Jackson: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104; @jdjackson