Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Despite being a quarter-century-old problem, the Logan Triangle continues to be one of the area’s most controversial issues. The 35 acres of stagnant land conjures heated debates at community meetings, but fervent arguments often sizzle to sighs of lost hope. One local resident’s opinion remains as hot as it was 25 years ago, when the dilemma began, and justly so. Doctor Donald Turner’s practice is one of the few buildings still standing on the blighted land.
“MAYOR GOODE THOUGHT MY WHITE FRIENDS WOULD HELP ME,” reads a sign on top of Courtland Street Medical, the font larger than that of billboard advertisements. “Things have gone from bad to worse,” explains Turner. He blames former mayor Wilson Goode for the empty land that sprawls out from his building. In 1984, Goode took office, in the following years the deconstruction of the Logan Triangle began.
“My block was the first to be torn down,” explains Turner. He says Goode’s primary concern was to relocate the black residents, which was the entire block aside from him. The Doctor’s small practice was spared, masked as a blessing; it is the only structure on the block that still stands.
The building appears more like a shed from a distance, dwarfed by overgrown weeds which rise halfway to the roof. Along the cement side wall, a staircase ascends a few feet, only to crumble to a detritus of rock and litter. The front of the building, painted white, bows at its base with a decaying sidewalk. “One time a cancer patient fell in a sinkhole,” says Turner, “I thought they’d shut me down for sure.”
He wasn’t shut down. And he won’t be. The city has tried to force the doctor out, but he stands his ground--no matter how unstable it is. “They won’t offer me a buyout,” he says. Relocating without funds is out of the question. Turner has lost, and continues to lose service because of the physical location and condition of his practice.
“I’m embarrassed to bring friends here,” he says, “it’s not the nicest place.” In addition to driving away clientele, Courtland Street Medical’s location and appearance deter potential help from hospitals. “No hospital wants to put money into a place like this,” says Turner.
Things didn’t get any better after Goode left office. During Mayor John Street’s tenure, Councilwoman Marian Tasco confronted him with the Logan problem. Turner claims that the two had irreconcilable personal issues with each other which prevented action from being taken. “Tasco fought with Street,” says Turner, “they didn’t get along, so nothing happened.”
Since the houses in the 35 acres were torn down, Turner’s practice has deteriorated both physically and economically. The building is dilapidated and clientele is dwindling. After pleading his case in court multiple times to no avail, government interest has also diminished. “Judges just sigh at the story,” he explains, “you have to know people to win in court.” Turner continues to fight, always looking for new ways to bring life to the area, but he admits the road has been rough: “It’s difficult, after a while it becomes depressing.”
By Alex Onkow and Stacey Naughton
Posted by Alex Onkow at 11:38 PM