Neighbors Pleased With Park Plan Changes

A group of Orange Grove neighbors discovered you can fight City Hall.

Plans to build a sports complex right next to their homes raised concerns about traffic and the safety of neighborhood children.

Residents asked for a meeting with the mayor.

The neighbors on Sunnymeade Drive don't object to the building of four new softball fields and basketball courts. But they do worry about the possibility of their quiet, narrow neighborhood street becoming a busy entrance way to the new sportsplex.

They raised those concerns and leaders listened.

"Everyone was worried about the children. That's the number one concern," said Rebecca Morton, as she watched a group of neighborhood kids ride their bikes on the street.

Neighbors here worry about keeping their kids safe. They fear the sports complex now under construction, will eventually make their street a congested, unsafe entrance.

"The main concern was the amount of traffic going up and down our street with other children playing in the road," said Morton.

Gulfport city councilman, Chuck Teston, represents the area.

"The last thing in the world we wanted to do was to disrupt these people's lives," he said, as a meeting between neighbors and city leaders.

Two neighborhood representatives voiced their concerns at  the meeting with the mayor, city department heads, and Supervisor William Martin, who's involved since the county is paying for most of the park.

Leaders sided with the residents in agreeing to build a fence between Sunnymeade Drive and the ball fields.

"We've elected to adhere to the citizen's wishes and close that off," said Martin.

Those who represented the citizens... shared the good news with their neighbors after the meeting.

"There's seventeen  kids on that street so it was a very big concern," said a relieved Bobby Morton, who was happy the leaders agreed to block the Sunnymeade entrance to the park.

Along with blocking off their street, neighbors also won another concession. They were concerned  a planned pavilion was too close to the nearest house. City and County leaders agreed and promised to move it to the north side of the complex, away from any residents.

The altered park plans please the Sunnymeade neighborhood.

"We feel like we got a lot accomplished," said Rebecca Morton.

While neighbors feel pretty good, they didn't get everything they wanted. They were pushing for a ten or twelve foot high fence to block their street from the adjoining park. They'll have to settle for the more common six foot high privacy fence.