Northport parks visioning meeting dominated by community center concerns

By WVUA 23 News Student Reporter Nick Balenger

On Monday, Northport city leaders were prepared to showcase what’s in the future for the city’s park and recreation offerings. But residents who attended the Monday visioning session didn’t care much about the future water park or a park being build in partnership with DCH Heath System. They’re much more concerned about what’s happening with the Northport Community Center.

City leaders and residents have been vocal for weeks about the future of the center, historic buildings and park nestled in a prime real estate location off Lurleen Wallace Boulevard.

On June 5, Northport City Council unanimously voted to begin a 180-day due diligence period over a potential sale of the land to developer Beeker Property Group. Residents who learned of the move were at that council meeting with signs protesting the change, but none were allowed to address the council because the deadline for address requests had passed.

At the next council meeting June 19, several residents spoke against selling the property. Also at the meeting, District 2 Council Member Woodrow Washington claimed residents against selling the park were bullying him online and calling for a boycott of his business, Archibald and Woodrow’s BBQ.

Washington then proposed a repeal of a city law requiring unanimous approval from the Northport City Council and mayor to sell any city-owned property used for recreation. That measure will be up for a vote at the next council meeting scheduled for July 10.

“I think you could kind of tell in the room how there’s a lot of stress and frustration on the part of the public to be able to have open communication to their public servants, their council representatives,” said Northport resident Amy LeePard. “I think it’s very problematic for our city, currently and into the future.”

A petition on to “Save the Community Center and Heritage Park” has more than 1,000 signatures.

Over the course of the nearly three-hour meeting, city leaders also discussed improvements for Kentuck Park and future parks including an adventure park and water park.

Residents also chimed in on amenities they’d like to see around town, including more sidewalks, walking and biking trails and an exercise loop.

Future visioning sessions are scheduled for:

  • July 31: Full Plan Review and Open House
  • October, date undecided: Zoning Update
  • February 2024: Subdivision Regulations

If you’re curious about the parks and recreation presentation made at the meeting, you can check it out right here.

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