Residents Blast Park Avenue Plans
Although residents feared the worst, the Columbia Housing Authority told them nothing is decided. In fact, the Swope company presented two plans for the Park Avenue housing projects.
The first option is to tear down all buildings and start over, as Swope did in Kansas City. The second option is to renovate homes, but Swope is concerned about the buildings' safety.
Park Avenue resident Gerry Green said that's not the case.
"It's safe," he said. "We've got brick. The stuff they showed us in Kansas City is wood and raggedy."
Residents also said revitalization is just a way to get rid of them. Nathan Stephens, who works with residents at Big Brothers-Big Sisters of Columbia, said it's a question of trust.
"I think most people in public housing are cynical about politicians in general, or anyone in authority," he said. "I mean, they're just kind of like that. We hope you do the right thing by us and there's not really much we can do for the most part."
The housing authority admitted it must communicate better with residents. If CHA decides to tear down and rebuild the area, residents will have to relocate during construction. Green said the housing authority is not considering all relocation costs.
"I got the bus station right out my back door," he explained. "If they move me somewhere, I'm not on a bus route. I can't afford a taxi."
The next public meeting on the proposed project is May 8 in the J.W. "Blind" Boone Community Center on Providence Road. You can find more information about the plan on disc at the Columbia Public Library.