The residents and police have been complaining about the ease with which the drug dealers have had for years of escaping the police through a hole in the rear fence in order to reach Rockland AV and Rosa Terrace. The proposals for the redevelopment of the South First Street public housing site will greatly assist this activity by providing permanent infrastructure for it.
The proposal of a walking trail in the rear of the site, and also, a connection to the Belmont neighborhood, simply violates the principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. This rear walkway will provide three different escapes for the frequent on-site criminal guests: to Elliot AV, to Hartmans Mill RD and into Belmont and other crime areas within that neighborhood.
The trail will not function as a park nor as a walk way and is, in fact, a redundant function of the sidewalk network on the publicly owned South First Street. The police have legal access to South First Street, however, it does not have free access to CRHA-owned property. The public sidewalk connection along South First Street to Elliot AV and Hartmans Mill RD is a sufficient connection and the proposed rear walkway is functionally redundant to it The walkway from Belmont to the bus stop on South First Street is redundant with the Elliot AV walkway to the bus stop that currently exists on the corner of South First and Elliot AV.
The proposed walkway in the rear providing access to Belmont should be scraped in order to assist the housing authority’s first purpose, which is to provide safe housing.
The design scenarios for South First Street are not in keeping with portions of item #8 in the Residents’ Bill of Rights for Redevelopment which states:
“The redevelopment process will support a system of economic justice … in which the redeveloped communities feature improved amenities…” As most developments increase in size, so too does the size and variety of amenities usually. In this case, replacing a ball field and basketball courts for a vegetable garden and a small sitting park of almost pocket park size is hardly improving amenities. In fact, most people would say it is a downgrading of amenities.
Most parents do not allow their children to venture to Tonsler Park or Belmont Park because of safety reasons, thus the residents will be losing opportunities for group recreational activities. Instead of getting rid of the fields, perhaps a better idea would be to re-program the ball field or organize some baseball or softball leagues to include the residents.
Mr. Martin – Thank you for your comments. We will take them into consideration as we continue working on these drafted design scenarios. They will also be sent to our consultant team for inclusion in their work as they prepare a revised set of options for us to review in December.