This is the third in a series of three articles looking at the first year of Randall Woodfin’s tenure as mayor.
In its first year, Randall Woodfin’s administration has restructured the mayor’s office and moved to address the city’s violent crime rate. But the crux of Woodfin’s political career thus far has been the issue of neighborhood revitalization.
On the campaign trail, he repeated the mantra that Birmingham “is only as strong as our lowest quality-of-life neighborhoods,” accusing then-Mayor William Bell of focusing on downtown development while neglecting other areas.
Woodfin’s revitalization plan has largely focused on maintaining and improving basic city services in neighborhoods, such as paving streets and sidewalks, demolishing dilapidated structures, cutting overgrown lots and picking up trash — what he calls the “blocking and tackling” of government.
While the practicalities of bureaucracy have slowed some of Woodfin’s neighborhood revitalization projects, including his 100 Homes, 100 Days program, he maintains that his administration’s approach has been “aggressive,” and promises that it will get more so.
“Day one of year two, the priority and sense of urgency is still around neighborhood revitalization,” Woodfin told reporters a week before the anniversary of his inauguration as mayor. “We are going to get the fundamentals of government right.” Read more.
Read the first two articles in the series.
One Year and Counting: A Year After His Inauguration, Mayor Woodfin Promises a Comprehensive Crime Plan by the End of the Year
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin addressed concerns about his proposed FY 2018 budget’s funding for neighborhoods during a press conference Thursday, arguing that his administration was actively working to address neighborhood associations’ complaints about bureaucratic red tape.
Earlier this month, Woodfin announced that he would be moving the $500,000 typically allocated to neighborhood associations “to directly invest in revitalization,” saying that neighborhoods already have unspent funds “sitting here” in their accounts.
“We challenge the neighborhood associations to work with us with the existing funds they have to address weed abatement, demolition and other neighborhood improvements,” he said then.
But during May 14’s budget hearing, neighborhood officers argued that they had been unable to spend their money for years due to a lengthy and often interminable approval process. “[Woodfin] never asked us why we have so much money in our accounts,” Central Park Neighborhood Association President Susan Palmer told a sympathetic city council.