Pastor Adam Carrington of the Brooks AME Worship Center has been on the front lines fighting for the Northside residents since he moved to the area from Austin.
“The biggest issue right now is trust,” Carrington said. “This process takes a while and that takes a toll.”
Carrington feels like his duty is to help keep the residents informed and that’s what he’s been doing since he moved here in 2014. This is why he chairs the Citizens Alliance for Fairness and Progress, a community action group. He also sits on the Community Advisory Board, or CAB. This allows him to directly interact with Texas Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration and the Port Authority of Corpus Christi then inform the community of what’s going on.
Carrington estimates that about 60 percent of people want to leave the area, but it might be a little harder than they thought.
“People are finding out they have reverse mortgages that their parents took out,” Carrington said. “The deeds aren’t free and clear.”
For the people who choose to stay, or don’t have a choice but to stay, “I want them to be able to live peacefully in an environmentally safe neighborhood,” he said.
Carrington said if the church were offered the right amount of money, they would relocate. Carrington said he is worried about eminent domain, not just for the church but also for the homeowners who stay.
“If that were to happen, a lot of people wouldn’t get a fair shake,” he said. “The church has lawyers and we can fight most of the people here cannot.”
Carrington said, although he used to believe this was all discriminatory, “it’s just the land. It’s close to the water which means it’s close to growth.”
He stated he feels that if there is in fact discrimination going on that it is likely more socioeconomic in nature than racial.
“When I moved here I thought it was about skin color; now I think it’s about poverty,” he said. “These are poor people on valuable land.”
Lamont Taylor, also with the Citizen’s Alliance, feels the same way.
“This is a HUB (historically under-utilized business) zone,” he said.
Taylor explained that this means the land is desirable for growth and that the government would typically even give tax breaks to get more businesses into the area.
Taylor also worries about the older people in the community.
“What has the government done and what are they going to do for the elderly people?” Taylor asked. “They’re citizens. We’re citizens, they’re supposed to help us.”
Taylor said he plans on leaving the area.
“I have property all over the Northside, so I’ll probably sell two pieces,” he said.
Taylor said that he looks forward to the development of the area.
“It will make a lot of good opportunities for the youth in the community, if they apply themselves.” He said he hopes they start to stay.
“I’ll leave the history of the neighborhood when I go,” he said. “I’ll take with me a sense of accomplishment, of helping people get what they need.”
Daniel Pena, with the Citizen’s Alliance, said he will stay.
“I’m not planning on moving,” Pena said. “I’m not going anywhere, wasn’t intending to. Never have.”
Pena echoed Carrington and Taylor’s sentiments about the elderly people of the area. There are a lot of senior citizens,” he said. “I think they’re being taken advantage of.”
As for Carrington, “I may not have grown up here but I grew up in neighborhoods like this.”
The neighborhood may not have changed him, but he will carry pieces of it with him when he leaves.
“I’ll carry the character with me. The love. The history,” Carrington said. “I hate to see it go away under these circumstances.”