A report recently published online by a Lubbock citizen was the main discussion topic at Wednesday’s Coffee with the Mayor event at the United Supermarket on Parkway Drive. Audio of the full question-and-answer session is available at the bottom of the page.
The almost 50-page Disparity Report questions Lubbock’s southern and western expansion as “Old Lubbock,” the area inside Loop 289 and more specifically the north and east sides of town, sees less development.
The development concept of smart growth, which focuses on urban centers versus urban sprawl, is a recurring theme. The report addresses social and local government concerns, including Lubbock’s zoning history and racial inequalities. It offers suggestions – some actionable, some financial. Short and longer term.
Writer Nicholas Bergfeld said it’s a data and research-driven report motivated by passion for the city he grew up in and moved back to a few years ago. The report was shared online Friday and has circulated around. Many attendees Wednesday had printed copies.
“You have to protect and preserve what’s already there," Bergfeld said. "The citizens of Lubbock are going to respond to that. The majority of us live inside the loop or near the loop as well and we understand what’s been happening to our community. Where we’re essentially subsidizing a Dallas suburb to be built outside of reach, outside of our school district with houses that we can't afford and businesses we can’t shop at.”
The first question for Mayor Dan Pope was about his response to the document.
“I think 48 pages is more than most people would want to read," the mayor said. "Knowing Nicholas as well as I do, I expected it to be a little better researched. I thought it was awfully personal. I thought some of the ideas were really good and I thought some of the ideas I could probably never agree with. But, it is what it is. I have read it. I think it would’ve been a lot more effective if it was one or two pages talking about the past and then the 15 pages talking about ideas for the future. Those are my thoughts about it.”
Natalie Ayers, who lives on the east side of town and read the Disparity Report, asked the next question. She wore a black shirt that read “Mayor Dan Pope, our communities matter.” She wants to know what the city will do to improve her community and rectify past neglect that can move the neighborhood forward.
Pope replied by saying every part of the community is important. Ayers said that was not evident in the way she feels her community has been treated.
The exchanges between the mayor and citizens got heated. One man said he did not feel like Pope was listening or cared and left.
Afterwards, Ayers said the response to questions asked at the event wasn’t enough.
“The answers I particularly was looking for was for him to have some action behind fixing or rectifying some of the issues we face every single day with pollution, with industries, with lack of schooling, with our roadways, lack of businesses, lack of banks," Ayers said. "He didn’t tackle any of those. He kind of went around the issue each time.”
Texas Tech Public Media offered for Pope to comment on the event.