Resident the Rev. Sharon Collins called in the NAACP and Newton County Ministers Union two weeks ago because she was dissatisfied with the county’s handling of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. After several meetings, she seems to have come full circle.
"Initially, I didn’t want the park. However, I had an opportunity to see viable information and now I call it a field of dreams," Collins said. "I call it a field of dreams because now when I look at the community, I want to be there. I want to be able to add to the community."
The creation of that sense of community has excited many residents including Jonathan Moore, who said despite the strenuous process, the results have been a blessing.
"I appreciate that two to three weeks ago, I didn’t know my neighbors, even though I had been living there for two to three years. I couldn’t ask my neighbor for sugar, but now I can go around my neighborhood and get help," Moore said. "At first I was against, but now I support the project at IECDG. Thank you for your time and efforts."
Both Moore and Collins thanked the county and IECDG for taking the time to set up several meetings and to help educate them about the complex NSP.
IECDG is the non-profit organization administering the NSP for the county, and President R.J. Fields said the group is ready to move forward now that they have good-faith agreements with the residents. The Rev. W.J. Smith, president of the Ministers Union, came in to mediate between the residents who oppose and promote the park.
On Oct. 27, two representatives from each side met with Smith and IECDG members to work through the issue. A fifth resident attended and they ended up voting on whether they wanted the park, with four in favor and one opposed. After voting, the representatives signed contracts.
"It’s been a blessing to help them," Smith said. "It was tough going, but after we got everything on the table, we managed to get them together."
District 3 Commissioner Nancy Schulz thanked everyone for their time and effort, especially the residents.