PORTSMOUTH — Residents of Farley Square and community members gathered at Bannon Park to show their support in keeping the green space green instead of being turned into a parking lot.
Members from the community and the Portsmouth Metropolitan Housing Authority gathered at Bannon Park Thursday to host a community meeting to share with everyone that PMHA is more than willing to look into other solutions.
“There has been a real breakdown in communication. I think we solved that today,” PMHA Chairman of the Board Emily Cobb said to residents at the meeting. “There were some thoughts that this was all racially motivated. I don’t know where that came from. I will tell you nothing is going to happen that is detrimental to the children.”
In an interview with the Daily Times, Tuesday PMHA Executive Director Peggy Rice shared PMHA did have preliminary plans to have a small six-space parking lot in the rightfield of the lot that PMHA owns. Due to accessibility issues at the current manager’s office, where residents pay rent, the housing authority was looking into moving the office to the community building and adding the parking spaces to make it handicap accessible.
“That building you can just walk up. There are no steps,” Rice said Tuesday. “What we are looking at doing is putting in five or six spots so there would be handicap accessibility. According to the law, if there is not parking, then it is not handicap accessible.”
Cobb, along with other board members, 14th Street Community Center Director Maxine Malone, and Scioto County NAACP President Andre Sappington, met earlier Thursday to clear up information and work on other solutions to announce later Thursday evening.
“We are standing here to discuss the green space that Portsmouth Metropolitan owns, and we are standing together to work together to see what we can do to try to save that whole space there,” Malone said.
Sappington added to the conversation that he thought the meeting he attended went well and that PMHA was willing to investigate other solutions for alternate parking.
“It has been confirmed through Peggy Rice and others at PMHA that the plans are not solidified and there are other options,” Sappington said. “We are all out here working to make the community a better place and to make sure our kids have somewhere safe to play.”
Cobbs shared that she cannot speak for the entire board, but she believes the housing authority was also at fault with miscommunication and should have been more communitive to the residents of Farley Square.
“There is no plan that has ever been made that can’t be changed to benefit everybody,” Cobbs said. “I see how people feel about this and it’s just too easy to correct it and that’s what we are going to do.”
Malone shared with the group of residents and community members that while they are working to develop other solutions, everyone needs to do their part to make Bannon Park and the field a safe place for children to play.
“We have to be part of the solution,” Malone said.
Other solutions were discussed at the community meeting involving clearing the sidehill across from Farley Square or changing some layouts to current parking. Residents also took the time to brainstorm and share some of their own ideas as well.
“Let us put our heads together and come up with a solution,” Malone said.
Reach Adam Black at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1927, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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