Put apartments elsewhere

Published 6:07 pm Wednesday, February 18, 2015

To the editor:

I’m a long-rooted citizen of Suffolk and live in the “old Suffolk” downtown district. I am highly concerned with the decision to build 220 apartments on the old Louise Obici Memorial Hospital site on North Main Street.

Please give consideration to the attributes Suffolk has to offer young families, visitors and locals. It’s disappointing to know of a beautiful river and wildlife on both sides of Main Street that is blocked by empty buildings and shops. Our only views of the Nansemond River are a “drive-by” near the Hilton, from Route 58 at 60 mph or from the new Walgreen’s parking lot.

Email newsletter signup

It’s hard to promote any tourism in Suffolk, because we are known for being boring, with nothing to offer. Our city has a wealth of historic value and a natural preserve that attracts visitors from all over. The problem is, we have absolutely no general public access to our river in the downtown area.

Nature and open spaces are wonderful medicines. It would be awesome to see trails for hiking, biking and jogging that could be enjoyed by citizens and visitors, alike.

We own an old boat and a canoe and travel to Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Newport News to launch it. Suffolk officials should provide public access to the river.

The old Obici site is a perfect location for a city park, due to its size and access to the river and should be preserved to give respect for the legacy of Mr. and Mrs. Obici and the history of the peanut industry here.

With a boardwalk and pier, canoe and boat launch with parking, covered picnic tables, trails, restrooms and even a small coliseum for outdoor events, this would be a riverfront preserved.

Visitors and locals could enjoy picnics, pier fishing, TGIF, historical events and reenactments, retreats, fundraisers, community fairs and more. The park could serve as a trailhead to other trails covering miles of Suffolk from Chuckatuck through downtown.

This location seems to be the last large area of riverfront property that can be enjoyed by the masses, not just the individual who can afford to buy the house or rent the apartment located there.

Please look around. New condos on Constance Road sit empty, houses all over sit empty and new homes on Pitchkettle are still being developed.

For years now, the old Lowe’s location has been a terrible eyesore. I recommend this great location for any new apartments you may be considering for the old Obici site. Suffolk has depressed and vacant shopping center areas all over that could be developed into apartments, rather than this open space on the already congested North Main Street.

Please give us our river to enjoy.

Terri Brown