Avondale neighbors concerned over YFD center

Avondale neighbors concerned over YFD center

December 10th, 2018 by Judy Walton in Breaking News

Construction work is underway Friday, December 7, 2018 at the new Avondale Youth and Family Development Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Avondale neighbors are unhappy with the design of the new YFD and say city hall is ignoring their concerns over the layout of the gym, concrete bleachers and location of showers and restrooms.

Photo by Erin O. Smith

Gallery: YFD center

+6
more photos

Avondale residents will meet with city officials Tuesday to start talking about programming for the neighborhood's new Youth and Family Development Center, even though community concerns about the building remain.

At an October Chattanooga City Council meeting, city Chief of Staff Stacy Richardson called the $6 million center "one of the largest, most state-of-the-art buildings in our portfolio," with a full-sized basketball court, gym, kitchen, classrooms and multipurpose rooms, a 2,500-square-foot library/reading technology room and more.

It's a great replacement for the cramped, 60-year-old center in use, residents say.

"We went through three mayors to get a new center," Avondale Neighborhood Association President Ken Smith said." Andy Berke was the first to get the $6 million for a new center. It's needed and welcome."

But Smith said local residents are unhappy about parts of the building and aren't convinced the city is taking their concerns seriously. City officials, meanwhile, believe the residents have some misconceptions about the project.

Residents are disconcerted and offended that the gym's bleachers are concrete rather than retractable wooden structures they expected.

"That's not what the people asked for. I think the community felt slighted," Smith said.

People worry that youngsters playing hard might fall or slide into the bleachers, and that the bare concrete will be uncomfortable to sit on. They also worry that putting the showers and toilets under the bleachers will invite mold and germs.

Richardson told Smith and others at the October council meeting those fears were taken into account, and that tearing down the concrete bleachers would cost $350,000, not counting the price tag for replacement seats.

"If project wasn't safe, if we had found information that validated the spirit of these concerns, we'd be having a very different conversation," she said at the time, also correcting a misperception that the basketball court was less than regulation-sized.

"We take community input very seriously," Richardson said.

In what Smith called an attempt at compromise, Avondale residents asked for padding for the lower sections of the bleachers, seats with backs atop the concrete, and for shifting the basketball court to increase the buffer to 12 feet.

He said the contractor on the project told him shifting the court two feet would mean re-engineering the girders that support the baskets at either end.

"That's an added expense they may or may not be willing to consider," he said.

Neighbors noted the council last week voted to pay for more than $300,000 in extra expenses related to zoning, dirt removal, landscaping and other changes, he said, and worry that there won't be money to address their issues.

City officials say that's not a worry.

Youth and Family Development Administrator Lurone "Coach" Jennings said his staff is listening to the neighbors' concerns.

"We're going to assess and evaluation and make a professional recommendation that will create an environment that is safe and that is attractive and that is user-friendly for the programs that will be provided at that site for the community," Jennings said.

"We hope and pray the community will be patient and let us think through and flesh out and come up with something we know that will be really great," he said.

And City Councilman Anthony Byrd said Richardson promised at that October meeting to get the community together after the holidays for a briefing on the project. That will include discussion about stadium seats and moving the basketball court, he said.

Richardson said in an emailed statement Friday the city plans to address the community concerns as it reviews the feasibility of the suggested changes.

"A committee has been formed, which includes members of the Avondale community, to help find solutions for these issues," she said. "Ultimately, we want families in Avondale to enjoy the center, but we also want to make sure we get this project finished in a timely and fiscally responsible manner."

Byrd also said he's planning to convene monthly community meetings so interested neighbors can keep up as construction moves forward. And if it takes more money, he said, "I am willing to push to make that happen."

"I'm sure the other council members will support me in making sure Avondale gets a top-notch facility," he said.

Contact staff writer Judy Walton at jwalton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6416.

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Chattanooga Times Free Press Comments Policy

The Chattanooga Times Free Press web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Times Free Press web sites and any content on the Times Free Press web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Times Free Press, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Times Free Press websites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Chattanooga Times Free Press
400 East 11th Street
Chattanooga, TN 37403
Phone: 423-757-6315
Email: webeditor@timesfreepress.com


Loading...