Obici Park would be a destination

Published 10:16 pm Wednesday, February 4, 2015

To the editor:

When I drive by the old Obici property, I think of what a beautiful park this would be, with the old, stately, grand trees already in place — trees that could never be replaced. This park would be so inviting and visual to visitors and newcomers looking to choose Suffolk as their home.

If a farmer sells his farm for a housing development, it becomes a one-time cash crop. If the farmer continues to till the land, it provides crop after crop, and the value of the land increases for future generations.

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The old Obici property can be used to produce many crops of a more productive and valuable nature in the form of a park for all of Suffolk’s citizens and visitors. It could be a destination for tourists, just like Windsor Castle Park draws people like me to Smithfield.

This would provide tax dollars to Suffolk, instead of draining the city through the cost of the roads, schools and services a housing development would require.

The park could offer bike trails, walking paths and views along the beautiful Nansemond, along with kayaking, canoeing, an amphitheater, a butterfly and rose garden and educational opportunities.

A museum could even be built on the property to share the history of the Nansemond Indians, the role Suffolk played in the Civil War, Amedeo Obici’s history and the story of Gov. Mills Godwin.

I have worked with children all my life, and I am glad we have the children’s playgrounds behind Farm Fresh, but the Community Obici Park would be a visual introduction to everyone who enters our city. It would be a green space to provide access to the wonders of nature in all its splendor.

I suggest the developers who want to build 224 apartments on this special property buy the old Lowe’s on Route 10, which has been vacant and an eyesore for many years. They could use that property to build their four-story apartments and retail space, instead of taking the only open green space left that’s close to the heart of the city.

Our forefathers, who sold our lakes to Portsmouth and Norfolk, had a short-term vision for short-term gain that cost Suffolk citizens for generations to come.

Hundreds of citizens who wore badges in support of the Community Obici Park at the Jan. 28 meeting agree with me in asking our mayor, city manager, City Council and Planning Commission members to have long-term vision, instead of pursuing short-term gain.

Please consider the Community Obici Park as a vibrant alternative to the proposed development.

Debbie W. Chappell