Groups work for Alton Park improvements

Groups work for Alton Park improvements

May 18th, 2011 Rachel Sauls in Local Regional News

Representatives from 14 community-based organizations and Hamilton County commissioners Joe Graham and Warren Mackey are working together to coordinate improvements being made in the Alton Park community and discussing future plans for its development.

"We are not here to discuss problems; it's good to mention problems, but we're here to talk about solutions," said George Calhoun, president of Alton Park Development Corporation, during the group's quarterly stakeholders' meeting last week.

During the meeting, representatives from the Chattanooga Neighborhood Association, South Chattanooga Association of Neighbors, City of Chattanooga Public Works, Hamilton County Department of Education, Southside Community Health Centers, Chattanooga Parks and Recreation Department, the Tennessee Division of Remediation, Chattanooga Housing Authority, Neighborhood Watch at the Villages at Alton Park, Tennessee Environmental Epidemiological and Communicable Environmental Diseases Department, STOP Toxic Pollution, Penrose Management and Saint Elmo Neighborhood Association spoke to the group.

Betsy McCright, executive director of the Chattanooga Housing Authority, listed $14 million in improvements being made to the Emma Wheeler Homes Public Housing Property as one of the major immediate developments in the Alton Park area. The improvements to this building will include "a total rehab and upgrade of every single unit" and more efficient heating and air systems, she said.

McCright also discussed an offer to purchase the back 11 acres of the Villages at Alton Park with the intention of building 75 tax credit properties on that site.

Public Works representative and engineer Dennis Malone listed the recent completion of Jefferson Heights Park and last year's efforts to make more area sidewalks handicap accessible as some of the city department's contributions to the area.

"When we work on sidewalks we work for connectivity between parks, schools, recreation facilities and places of employment," he said.

According to Malone, providing sidewalks along 38th Street is another project that has been identified by the city as a priority for Alton Park.

Bill Hicks, executive director of the Southside Community Health Center and Dodson Avenue Community Health Center, discussed the vitality of local health centers in and around Alton Park.

He reminded stakeholders that since these centers are affiliated with Erlanger they must meet the hospital's medical standards, a majority of members on the health centers' boards of directors must be consumers of the centers' services and two members of the health centers' boards of directors are also members of the Erlanger board of trustees.

"We have this connection with Erlanger that gives us an opportunity to not only be responsive, but to be technically excellent in our response to the needs of the people in our community," he said.

According to Hicks, the Southside Community Health Center will begin moving from the old John P. Franklin Middle School building this year to a more accessible site on 38th Street and Ohls Avenue to provide a wider variety of services and programs in 2012.

"My role here in Alton Park is to do the things this community is in much need of and to give it direction and vision, and with all of your help I think we can accomplish those goals," said Dr. Eleanora Woods, executive director of Alton Park Development Corporation.

Email Rachel Sauls at mjones@timesfreepress.com