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‘Prioritize the voice of the people’: Sen. McKinney against displacement for business park near Eppley

Posted at 6:42 PM, Jun 13, 2024

For months East Omaha neighborhood reporter Molly Hudson has been talking with neighbors who have been asking a similar question.

"Is something going to happen here, is this going to be here in a year," said Melissa Youngblood, vice president of Home Trailer Park in Northeast Omaha.

They want to know if the new Inland Port Authority and the people selected to serve on its board will ultimately decide to clear the way for a business park to be built here.

State Senator Terrell McKinney is on that board. He hopes the board is a way for the community to monitor what decisions are being made about their neighborhood.

"Give the community a voice and have some transparency on what was going on," McKinney said.

The board was approved on June 4, in the days since Hudson has worked to learn when the board will make its first step.

Thomas Warren, Mayor Jean Stothert’s chief of staff, and one of the new Inland Port Authority board members, tells Hudson the first meeting will be in 50 days on August 1.

That is something Sen. McKinney did not know but wasn't surprised by.

"The board needs to meet, once the board meets, we will discuss you know how we are going to operate going forward, what the application process will look like for the community advisory board," McKinney said.

The community advisory board will be made up of nine members.

  • At least two owners of residential property
  • At least two business owners
  • A member of the city council whose district falls within the inland port
  • A member of the legislature whose district is in the inland port
  • A youth representative

McKinney says he doesn't want to see these homes demolished to make space for the business park. He thinks the new construction should be placed south of the homes in a currently undeveloped lot.
"Prioritize the voice of the people, prioritize the needs and wants of the people and figure out a way to work with everybody while still work towards changing the community for the better so and I am again displacement so just do phase one,” McKinney said.

But the most recently available plans for the area call for the new buildings to go where homes are and McKinney says he was not part of that process.

"I wasn't in a lot of conversations when the grantees were meeting, I wasn't in those conversations, I was in Lincoln trying to get the bill passed to hold the grantees accountable," McKinney said.

McKinney says he's continuing to answer questions from neighbors which continue to mount.

Thomas Warren says, that when it comes to being on that board, it will likely be an online application like other City of Omaha boards and commissions.