Community efforts for project praised by Henderson city council

Jan. 29, 2013 @ 05:16 PM

Henderson leaders on Monday received a report on Flint Hill resident input for what they want from a future recreational, educational, entertainment and family center on Zene Street.

Ward 3 council members Brenda Peace-Jenkins and Garry Daeke told the full council and staff during the regular council session that Flint Hill residents hope for a community center that could provide some jobs and offer job placement help.

“It was a good turnout,” Peace-Jenkins said. “The purpose of the meeting was to discuss a Plan B, something else to do with the REEF project.”

A minutes report on the meeting distributed to city leaders included the assessment by Downtown Development Commission Chairman Jason Stewardson that last year’s efforts for development of the old tobacco warehouse failed and the project was starting over.

Peace-Jenkins said the failure of prior efforts was the catalyst for gathering residents together last week at Shiloh Baptist Church for a “listening post” meeting, to focus attention on moving forward toward a new plan.

She and Daeke reported that jobs and job placement services were at the top of the list of priority needs stated by residents.

Henderson Mayor Pete O’Geary, who attended the meeting, said he was impressed by the helpfulness of the input as a guide for directing future REEF efforts.

“This is something that was good for the community,” O’Geary said.

According to the minutes report:

• Expressed were concerns that there is a lack of critical care services, play areas for children, recreational opportunities and a coin laundry facility.

• Some indicated there is a strong volunteer base for adding their own sweat equity to developing the project, especially if it included upgrading playground options in the neighborhood.

• Also spoken for as needed was space for children and young adults to learn crafts or arts, possibly to include cooking skills learning.

• In addition, residents said utilizing the center as a hub for re-entry programs is needed to help orient ex-felons toward productive habits after serving time in jail or prison, to reduce their return to criminal activities.

A complete body of responses is contained in questionnaires collected by consultant Cassandra Sparrow with the charitable development group Religious, Educational-and-charitable, Development-projects, Inc.

Attendants filled out the questionnaires based on what they would prioritize as their top three needs for the Flint Hill community, according to the minutes report.

RED is affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Sparrow was not available at Monday’s council meeting. A detailed report on the result of questionnaire responses is not yet completed.

 

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.