Winding his luxury SUV through the residential streets surrounding FAMU’s campus. County Commissioner and FAMU adjunct professor Bill Proctor points out the common inequalities that are characteristic of the Southside as he ticks off facts about his constituency.
“The median family income here is slightly above $28,000. Do you know what it is in district four?” Proctor asked.
“It’s over $70,000. Nearly a quarter of the families in district one are living below the poverty line.”
According to the Income, Poverty and Family type data from the 2000 census data, his information on both districts is accurate.
The citizens of District One are financially the poorest of the five districts that comprise Leon County.
The lack of economic resources are tied in to some of the discrepancies that are unique to district one. There are fewer jobs, which means a lower tax base and less money to provide for road and economic improvements that are obviously needed.
Proctor also bemoaned an environmental problem that is unique to the Southside.
“There are so many environmental injustices over here. I have an open sewer pit on Gamble and Lake Bradford Road.”
Frustrated, Proctor also said, “There is pure doo-doo one half-mile away from the renowned (FAMU) School of Business and Industry!” He continued, “There is another one on Springhill Road and Capital Circle. We’re bombarded with waste.”
Aside from the sewage treatment plants being located in and around their neighborhoods, flooding has been one of the major complaints of the citizens of District One.
Keith and Susan Griffin have lived on Tallahassee’s south side for their entire lives. Both are in their late 30s, they are parents of 11-year-old Ashley, and 19-year-old Jason, a FAMU freshman.
“They need to stop putting so many holding ponds over here!” Mrs. Griffin said.
Her husband agreed. “It’s like they’re draining all the water from other parts of town into the Southside.”
LaShun Williams, a 19-year-old sophomore from Tallahassee, agrees with the Griffins.
“The city has done some work in some areas, but there’s still a lot of flooding,” Williams said. She has additional concerns about having access to resources on the south side of town.
“Governor’s Square Mall isn’t far, but you have to leave this side of town to get to certain other stores,” she said.
Another difference between the south side of town and other districts is the lower number of commercial businesses.
“Other than gas stations and corner stores, there isn’t much,” Williams said.
That will soon change if Proctor’s plan to develop the North Florida Fairgrounds is successful. His office has recently hired a consultant for market analysis and feasibility of developing the fairgrounds into a commercial center.