South Chattanooga Association of Neighbors is asking the city to pitch in some property for recreation facilities in the Alton Park area.
"The citizens want a ballpark so bad for our children that we would clean up a park that right now is not being considered safe," group member Dr. Elenora Woods said in regards to self-organized community work days on vacant property behind The Villages in Alton Park.
The group is asking the city to consider dedicating that area as well as unused, vacant land behind Franklin Middle School.
"Frankly speaking, it's gotten to the point now where I just don't know how to address the young folks ... who are wanting to know why they can't have these kinds of facilities," said SCAN spokesperson and Alton Park Development Corporation President George Calhoun. "Now they have to go out of their neighborhood into other neighborhoods - it's causing problems. [St. Elmo] is an overshared area."
City Council representative and chair Pam Ladd told him to "get with our property people ... and see if there are any city-owned areas over there for consideration."
The community group also requested budgetary consideration for building facilities on the grounds as well as other unnamed budgetary items. Councilman Peter Murphy said the city has been batting for the area financially since 2007 when a community development block grant was accepted to build The Villages housing development.
"Y'all got to the front of the line a long time ago and are still getting a strong commitment from the city as far as available dollars," he said. "Remember when the Hope VI project was built? There's a lot of money there in infrastructure the city put in and your project is still taking up over half-a-million dollars a year ... and will for the next 15 years."
Federal cuts to the program that is helping fund the project mean even less available dollars, he added.
"I don't see a whole lot of improvement other than The Villages," said Woods. "The research I see basically shows that yes, we have had quite a bit of funding come into South Chattanooga, but a lot of it has not reached Alton Park, Piney Woods and the St. Elmo communities. We've had a lot of infrastructure work done on the Main Street side of town, but the poverty, the education problems we have, the cultural problems we have in Alton Park, Piney Woods and St. Elmo ... this is where the money needs to be."