More stores, not houses, needed

Published 7:47 pm Monday, July 8, 2013

There is a discussion going on in my new voting district, the Cypress Borough, to which I have been assigned by way of the recent redistricting process here in Suffolk.

The discussion centers on the City Council’s decision to donate land that it owns in the densely populated East Washington Street corridor community of Lake Kennedy Estates — which backs up to the East Suffolk Gardens community — to Habitat for Humanity.

The plan is for the Habitat organization to construct 10 or more homes for low-income families on the donated parcel. The residents of these two communities are wrestling with the question of which is needed more: more houses or some type of commercial development, for which the land is currently zoned.

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After being invited by some citizens in the neighborhood to take part in the discussion, I am in complete agreement with those who feel that a business such as a grocery store, drugstore, restaurant or perhaps a Dollar Tree would better suit the needs of the inhabitants than more rooftops, which conceivably could add to the problems caused by a lack of basic service suppliers for the multiple neighborhoods (Stratford Terrace, White Marsh Plaza, East Suffolk Gardens, Lloyd Place, Cypress Manor, Parker Riddick, etc.) along the East Washington and White Marsh corridors.

I strongly recommend that those who are in the position of giving away land that belongs to the taxpayers take another look at this situation so as to make sure the property will serve to enhance the quality of life for those who already live in this crowded suburban area.

I do not wish to leave the impression that I am against the Habitat for Humanity project. I am a strong supporter of the charitable programs provided by this magnificent organization.

Those who are familiar with the metamorphosis of the Huntersville community know of my commitment to its revitalization when I was the councilman for that borough. However, Huntersville was an entirely different type of community from Lake Kennedy.

The former was a drug-infested, unsafe, unsanitary area of substandard housing. Construction of 16 Habitat homes there initiated a spirit of pride and inspiration in that ailing community that has resulted in a respectable working-class village of which the entire city can be proud.

Lake Kennedy, on the other hand, is already a neighborhood of modest, well-kept, owner-occupied homes, for the most part. If it were not for the dearth of shopping opportunities there, I am sure Habitat for Humanity would be welcomed by everyone in the entire area with open arms.

Regarding this matter, I, a new Cypress borough resident, will fully support whatever the majority of the citizens of Lake Kennedy Estates feel is in their best interest. After all, they are the ones who live there, not the members of City Council.

Leroy Bennett is a former member of the Suffolk City Council. Email him at l.bennett@charter.net.