Fairfield residents offer feedback on revitalization
HUNTINGTON — Residents, business owners and other members of the Fairfield community gathered at A.D. Lewis Community Center Thursday evening to voice thoughts, feelings and ideas with Huntington officials for a neighborhood innovation and development project.
The Fairfield Innovation Project is headed by Camiros, an urban planning and development firm based in Chicago that has taken on similar projects across the nation.
This particular project will tackle issues along Hal Greer Boulevard, including roadway improvements along the thoroughfare involving congestion, flooding, connectivity, walkability and cyclist safety, as well as ensuring that the development meets the needs of the community.
Meetings with the community have taken place throughout the week, and community members were invited to give the project team feedback with their concerns.
Adam Rosa, principal at Camiros, said the main goal of the project is to develop a plan that is by and for the people of Fairfield.
“This process is really intended as a grassroots effort where everything that makes its way into the plan will be from the heart and soul of the community itself,” Rosa said.
Rosa said action and results are at the forefront of the project, as well as preserving the history of the community, eliminating stigma surrounding the community and preventing gentrification from negatively affecting the existing residents.
At the meeting, Camiros facilitated a small-group activity that gave the community members a chance to identify key assets the community already has and problem areas that need to be fixed. Among residents’ main concerns is the lack of a grocery store in the area.
The small groups then came up with a couple of projects that could be accomplished within the next few months. These projects will be reviewed by the project team and presented at the next meeting, where the community will vote on which project to take on in the next three to six months while the planning phase is taking place.
Thursday’s meeting was part of a four-part mobilization plan to get the ball rolling on revitalization. Phase 1 is the listening phase.
In an additional effort to keep a close tie with the community, four neighborhood ambassadors will be hired onto the planning team.
Shelmona Branch, 45, grew up in the Fairfield community and relocated back to the area. When she lived outside of the area, though, she said she still kept close to the neighborhood by continuing to be active in the community.
One thing Branch said she would like to see come out of the project is an arts enrichment center for youths. She said the opportunities for children who are not sports-oriented are lacking and that artistic children need an outlet to express themselves and develop their talents.
Branch also said the community needs to be updated.
“I just really want to see things happen,” Branch said. “It’s really good. I can tell they’re interested in what we want.”
The next meeting has not been set but will take place sometime next month.
Follow reporter Megan Osborne on Twitter and Facebook @megosborneHD.