Murray met with several citizens of the Sciotoville community Monday evening at Portsmouth East High School, where she took the opportunity to introduce Rebecca Steele, who is doing the work of the Community Development director.
Murray talked about Steele’s work in starting the Neighborhood Stabilization Program as an employee of the City Health Department.
“We’re getting more and more money to try to stabilize our neighborhoods and our housing stock,” Murray said. “We know we have many old structures that are beyond the point of repair, and they need to be torn down. They’re eyesores, they’re degrading our neighborhoods, and they are devaluing our property. But we also want to look at programs that deal with the redevelopment of those properties that are rehabitable, and make them viable parts of our community.”
Murray referred to the project as the “master plan for leisure activities.”
“When I came into Community Development the grant had not been written, and so I thought this would be a great opportunity to restore Rose (Street) Park,” Steele said. “I sort of ran with the idea. I don’t know how receptive it may be but I think that with a little faith if you can give it to me, I can show you exactly what I can do with these grants.”
She then told the people in attendance she had obtained a $30,000 Community Development Block Grant and that Portsmouth City Council had allotted $10,000 for the project.
Bill Shope of the Sciotoville Community Schools Governing Board also reminded Steele the school system had authorized $2,500 for the movement of dirt into areas that need to be leveled off.
“This is not the only grant I can apply for for this area,” Steele said. “And I plan on doing much, much more come February and March.”
Steele said the $10,000 authorized by City Council must be used by the end of 2010, and the CDBG grant will not be available until 2011.
While there was talk that some of the work could get started immediately, Steele said most of the work would have to take place in the spring of 2011.
Murray talked about what she wanted to accomplish with Monday’s meeting.
“But I also want to remind you that we really would like your input and involvement in all issues,” Murray said. “Whether it’s about housing stock and neighborhood redevelopment, whether it’s about business potential, ides that we can put together to help create good environments for the entrepreneur, because we know that’s the backbone of our economy in the United States: the entrepreneur, small business owner. We have a small business revolving loan fund.”
Jeff Dempsey, a resident of Sciotoville, talked about having gone before Portsmouth City Council concerning the park five years ago to no avail.
Murray asked him to organize a committee to bring ideas to Steele concerning what the citizens would like to see at the park.