Posted by Alex Becker '13
Urban Renewal Taints the Story of the Mouzon House
Urban Renewal Language and the Meaning of Progress
"People were concerned. And this one woman said, ‘I will sit on my front porch with a shotgun, and they’re not gonna take me away.’ Ya know, that sort of feeling was there. And Mrs. McCoy was there. Mouzon McCoy. She maybe came to one or two meetings, and she wanted to stay."
"It was negro removal. It was destroy everything, and then build from there. I had twelve houses that I thought really should be saved. They were brick. Some of them were multifamily houses, two family houses, some were single homes."
"My real feeling at the end was I really felt beat. Now I’m feeling like I won something. But it’s false because the reality was that I lose eleven. And I had eleven."
"substandard," "deteriorating," "warranting clearance" and contributing to "blight."
"Mia said it was like watching a war zone or being in a war zone watching everything come down. But it was a whole neighborhood of mixed races that was displaced and then the park went in, and the apartments went in, and the City Center went in and all of that. So, it was all I guess in the name of progress, but it also eliminated an awful lot of homes that were similar to this home."
"You had the kind of community leader - old school community leader - who said this is progress, this is modern life. We're improving the community by getting rid of slums."
"We have been born from our past never to return. Yet, we have a noble aim: To do fifty years' work in a matter of months... But with the active interest of every citizen we will succeed... With our history, our heritage with all our natural assets and advantages; with energy and enthusiasm, we cannot fail."
- James Benton, Chairman of Saratoga Springs Urban Renewal Agency.
Dianne Pedinotti also uses the word "monstrosity" to describe the four-story garage that's soon to be built on top of the current parking lot touching the Mouzon House. "They are going along with progress, if that's what you want to call it," she says.
The current debate situates and questions the word progress as an accurate label for development and the building of new structures in the city. The Urban Renewal Agency framed progress as success for Saratoga, which exposes how those on top define the meaning of the word. However, those whose lives become affected by the pervading forces of development and growth apply a bitter and resentful tone to progress and focus on the misuse of the word.