ABOUT THE CITY OF ASBURY PARK
• According to its Deputy Mayor, Amy Quinn the City of Asbury Park houses 16,000 residents, who “love calling Asbury Park home.” Some residents on the West side of Asbury Park, a segment of the city primarily populated by people of color, however, espouse a different kind of sentiment, as they live out a different kind of experience. In stark contrast to the images and narrative shared on the official Asbury Park website, the quality of life for Asbury Park residents is not uniform across the city.
• The Asbury Park unemployment rate is currently 8.50%, with a 3.55% decrease in available jobs over in 2016. The Income per Capita is $15, 505, and the median income is noted as $27,211 per the city’s official statistics.
• While the governing leadership of Asbury Park does reflect a diversified staff in most offices, the high-ranking, authoritative positions held by people of color are significantly disproportionate to those held by white counterparts.
• Some aspects of Asbury Park, however, is riddled with violent crime. In 2013, the NJ.com called Asbury Park “one of the county’s most violent cities.”
• In December of 2016, eleven shootings took place in a short six-week period.
• So, while Asbury Park’s official website talks about its commitment to giving back and creating a sense of pride in the community, there’s a population of people it leaves out of this claim. The empty, unutilized Westside Community Center of Asbury Park could serve as a safe haven for many of its youth and young adult population, who otherwise are left susceptible to growing violence in the area.
• Sixty-five percent of Asbury Park residents report some kind of religious affiliation. Catholics hold this largest segment of its population at 46.14%. Nine percent of Asbury claim the Jewish Faith, with Islam, Methodist, and Baptist each coming in just under 2%.
• There are 250 Abandoned buildings in this small one square mile town. It is commonly understood to the city has a Multipolar existence (Across the tracks)
• Police Officers with questionable records of abuse are subsequently promoted and not fired nor removed from the force. Currently there isn’t a board to review the Police activity
• The median household income in Asbury Park for owner occupied housing is 273.5% greater than the median household income for renter occupied housing in Asbury Park. The poverty level in Asbury Park is 203.7% greater than the New Jersey average and 101.3% greater than the National average.
TIME FOR SOME ACTION!
Objective: We want to serve the community by opening the Westside Community Center (WCC)
The Action Framework
There are 3 churches on Dewitt Ave. in Asbury Park all within close proximity of WCC, Shiloh Community Fellowship, True Vine Baptist Church and Allen AME Church. Churches are not currently utilizing the WCC however two retired pastors serve on the board. All three churches are very activity but have no connect to the center.
Radical Love in Public
The youth of Asbury Park are (hollaing) requesting that the center be opened through their actions. We see them sitting on the porch and playing in the yard on WCC property. We have discussed approaching those pastors mentioned earlier and other clergy about being more attentive to the needs of the community by supporting the reopening of the center. We would like to invite churches from other traditions additionally in an effort to bridge the racial, economic and cultural divides in the city.
Sacredness of Person
The closing of WCC violated the sacredness of the children. Their sacredness of the children was further violated when redevelopment of the city happens around the center and never comes to the center.
Team member Nicolle has been in discussion with various community officials and other stakeholders about the communal injustice of having the center closed. Which included but not limited to the following persons and organizations: Mayor John Moor, Mr. Robert Turner (Community Organizer), Nina Summerlin (Westside Citizens United), Stephen Williams (Board of Education and others.
As Clergy (Persons of Privilege) were we so concerned with the operations of the church that we neglected to address the needs of the youth outside our church and the cohesiveness of the community outside the doors.
Did Elected Officials & Redevelopers (Persons of Privilege) concern the children and community needed when eliciting funds received for realization? Were the children an afterthought to economic planning?
We aim to empower people to use their gifts to partner with WCC, churches, clergy, elected officials and other non-profit organizations to have the center reopened, so that the center may serve our beloved community. We will start by asking the three pastors to send a letter and petition from their congregants supporting the reopening of the center. The letter will include a declaration vowing continued support of WCC programming and the churches volunteer efforts to reestablish WCC to its former glory and beyond.