Mohammed Shoaib looked over a city of Lodi document on redevelopment before Friday prayers at the Lodi Muslim Mosque.
The paper, titled "Redevelopment: A tool to build a better Lodi," is part of the city's public outreach to make sure people know what is at stake as Lodi gives redevelopment another look.
This paper is unique, though. It is the first city document written in Urdu, the national language of Pakistan.
Shoaib, the mosque president, liked what he read.
"It is a very good start," he said. "We look forward to the city working with the Pakistani community."
As redevelopment is being reconsidered by Lodi, the city is reaching out to different ethnic groups and directly trying to reach the city's approximately 2,500 Pakistani residents. Materials in Spanish and Urdu are being distributed to explain what the city claims are the benefits of redevelopment.
Five years ago, the city tried to form a redevelopment project area, but scrapped the idea after it met opposition from a citizen's group. Last time, the city made little effort to reach out to the people, city communication specialist Jeff Hood said.
"Last time, I don't recall any participation from the Spanish or Pakistani community," said Hood, who is spearheading the effort to communicate with those communities. "We want people to participate to let the (City) Council know what they might want out of a redevelopment agency."
Hood said that redevelopment, a tool used by cities to increase its share of property tax, is less controversial this time around. In 2002, redevelopment would have included eminent domain, the power to seize private property. The city has said it will take eminent domain off the table for this redevelopment project.
"We're trying to tell people there is no eminent domain, which seemed to be what they feared the most five years ago," Hood said.
Hood spent Friday distributing 200 copies of a letter explaining redevelopment in Urdu. Another translation in Spanish will be circulated soon.
The Institute for Local Government helped the city translate the Urdu document using a federal grant, costing Lodi nothing. Hood enlisted former council candidate and Pakistani-American Roger Khan to proofread the paper. So far, it has been well received.
"It's very helpful," said Ejaz Mohammad outside the mosque Friday. "Some people can't read English so it's better that it's in Urdu."
Wallidad Khan was convinced by the city's redevelopment pitch.
"It will help the low-income people," he said. "It will make Lodi better."
Hood said it is essential to include the Pakistani community in the redevelopment discussion.
"The Pakistani community mostly lives in east Lodi," Hood said. "This is the community that is most likely to be affected by redevelopment. We feel it's important that we hear what they have to say."
The letter explains that the city is holding a public meeting at the Lodi Boys and Girls Club on July 19 at 6 p.m. to discuss redevelopment. Shoaib said it is important for the Pakistani community to attend the meeting and voice their opinion.
"I will go to the meeting," he said. "I encourage everyone to go and attend this."