Harrell letter nurtured thoughts of many

Published 8:07 pm Wednesday, May 13, 2015

To the editor:

I worked in the intensive care unit at the Louise Obici Memorial Hospital for more than 30 years.

After the old Obici hospital and the Louise Obici Memorial School of Nursing were torn down, I joined many other Suffolk citizens in being saddened to see the site fall into such a state of neglect.

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During recent Planning Commission meetings in which planners have considered a request for rezoning to accommodate an apartment complex, a question was raised of those who would like to see a park built on the property: “Where have you all been for the last 10 years?”

It is true that thousands of citizens have ridden by the overgrown site for years. But not until Monette Harrell wrote a letter to the editor asking City Council to consider the site for a park did we realize that our individual thoughts were shared by so many others.

I personally was sure that city leaders would select the best use for the site, but I was shocked when I learned that the property was to be used for 224 apartments.

Amedeo Obici left the bulk of his fortune to Suffolk to provide a hospital that would care for anyone who was sick. For more than 50 years, sick people received care at the old Obici site.

Now that Mr. Obici’s generosity has funded a new state-of-the-art hospital, I hoe City Council will support the old Obici property becoming the site of a green-space park that will promote wellness and improve the quality of life for all Suffolk citizens.

When I first joined Monette’s cause, my hope was for a beautiful park o memorialize and honor Amedeo Obici. I have since learned that a green-space park can impact the economic development of our community to a far greater extent than the tax revenue that can be gained from an apartment complex — and a park can improve the quality of life for all citizens.

It would seem only prudent to investigate the possibility of using the Obici site for a much higher purpose than apartments that can be built on many other sites in the city.

I have also learned that Main Street cannot possibly accommodate safely the extra traffic that would be generated each day by the 224 apartments.

I would encourage the Suffolk City Council to allow time for the green space option to be investigated. Many citizens are engaged in this effort and want to work to make the Obici property a site people would travel to Suffolk to see.

Joann Spivey Herring