After considerable debate, City Council approved three sites for the development of 48 public housing units to replace that same number of units being lost at The Berg.
"I have been very distressed with the tone of some of the e-mails that we have been receiving,” said Councilwoman Joyce Woodson. “This city is better than that and I certainly hope that they are not representative of the majority. If I believed that to be the case, I would not be proud to represent the people of this community.”
The sites that have been selected are on W. Braddock Road, S. Whiting Street and S. Reynolds Street. There are 10 public housing units at the W. Braddock site; the city owns the S. Reynolds site and ARHA must acquire the S. Whiting property.
“The Braddock site is as near to a perfect site as we are going to get,” said Councilwoman Redella S. “Del” Pepper. “As for the S. Whiting site, I am very concerned about parking, as I am at S. Reynolds.”
Woodson asked about recreational facilities on the sites. “We certainly plan to construct playgrounds, tot lots and that sort of thing just as we do on all of our scattered sites,” said A. Melvin Miller, the chairman of the ARHA Board.
Pepper discussed the need to enhance services at Essex House, a large apartment building on S. Reynolds Street that has a number of subsidized units. “I really think that this is part of the problem,” she said. “We have really dropped the ball at Essex House. I know that we have had library books there and that the Boys and Girls Club have a facility there. We really need to look at what services can be provided in addition to these.”
VICE MAYOR BILL CLEVELAND asked that the matter be deferred until the fall when Council returns. “I know that we have been discussing this for 10 years but the people in the West End have only had two weeks to get used to this,” he said. “I would just like to see us delay this a bit to give them a chance to get involved in the process.”
Mayor Kerry J. Donley disagreed. “We are under some pretty tight time constraints here and need to move quickly on this matter,” he said. “We have had two community meetings and any site that we chose is going to make someone unhappy. I believe that people tend to attack the process when they don’t agree with the conclusion. That doesn’t make the process bad.”
Councilman David G. Speck agreed. “This kind of reminds me of the new movie, Minority Report,” he said. “They are arresting people for crimes that they are thinking about committing. This is the same thing – a fear of the unknown.”