Community Development Day Celebrated

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 28, 2003

While the nation’s housing officials took a pause this past week to celebrate successful community development initiatives, Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority Executive Director Clarissa E. McAdoo pointed out on Saturday that &uot;every week is community development week in Suffolk.&uot;

Despite the forecast for rain and thunderstorms, the sun stuck around Saturday morning to give way to a festive day in the Hall Place and Orlando communities-where the SRHA’s most recent development efforts have occurred.

Since 1997, more than $2 million in neighborhood improvements, including the construction of single family homes, have reversed Orlando’s fate. Officials recognize that their work is far from over; however, they’ve come a long way.

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&uot;We will do whatever it takes to make this community what it should be,&uot; McAdoo told residents Saturday.

In Hall Place, residents are at the beginning of a long journey to turn their community around. Plans to construct at least five single-family homes, valued at $125,000 each, are underway, including a number of aesthetic changes.

&uot;There’s a lot of community appreciation here,&uot; said Ron Hatfield, president of the Hall Place Civic League.

SRHA resident-at-large commissioner Thelma Hinton urged the community that she will stand behind their requests for improvements. &uot;Whatever the community wants, I will support 100 percent,&uot; she said.

Both Hall Place and Orlando served up plenty of grilled hamburgers, hotdogs and more, along with entertainment to the tune of about 70 people at each event. The African-American Heritage praise dance team of First Baptist Orlando performed three routines, captivating the crowd with their unique talent.

Erol Newark, the SRHA’s new development director and Lucinda Hargrove, development program specialist, coordinated Saturday’s events. The special guest speaker for both programs was Carlos Renteria, program director of Community Planning and Redevelopment for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Renteria, who has spent all 41 years of his career with HUD, spoke highly of the SRHA’s community development efforts and future plans in Suffolk’s neighborhoods. He regarded homeownership as a focal part of &uot;stabilizing communities and stabilizing the nation,&uot; he said.

SRHA Board Chairman Mary V. Richardson was also present on Saturday, and urged the community to &uot;help us make it (the community) what it use to be,&uot; she stressed in Orlando.

The purpose of National Community Development Week, celebrated from April 21-27, is to take note of the impact Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) have had on neighborhoods. Since 1987, Suffolk has received more than $12 million from this federal and state funding source, Councilman Curtis R. Milteer noted on Saturday.

This money has paid for sewer and water line extensions, storm drainage, and affordable houses in low to moderate income Suffolk neighborhoods. In 2004, Milteer added that the city will receive $700,000 for revitalization projects.

Other officials present on Saturday included Fran Alwood, executive director for Suffolk Habitat for Humanity; Tyrone Sessoms, program administrator for The STOP Organization; Rev. Henry Baker, pastor of Greater First Baptist Church Orlando; Pastor Catherine Skinner, of New Paul’s Temple Holiness Church, Orlando; Walter Eason, of the Hall Place Civic League, and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney W. Randolph Carter, who’s seeking election to Suffolk’s clerk of court post.