To the Editor: Stanley White Center should be rebuilt at its present location on Chapman Street, not at the proposed new location off Neuse Boulevard.
Far from being only ball fields and basketball courts, the Center is much more — a meeting place for nearby residents, an after-school place for kids to go, a counseling center for adults to learn parenting skills and get help with completing job applications.
More than a place to exercise, it’s a safe place for children and their parents.
The city has purchased property in and around Gaston Boulevard and across from the main fire station, which is being considered for the re-location of Stanley White.
The main argument for the new location is that it’s out of the flood plain. Rebuilding at Chapman Street will require raising the entire lot, and moving to a new location allows construction of a larger facility, since the cost of raising Chapman Street is saved.
Such a deal is hard to resist.
Let me resist. Chapman Street is in Duffyfield; Gaston Boulevard is not.
The Stanley White Center was built to meet the needs of New Bern’s Black community because it was designed within the legacy of segregation.
Anyone who thinks that legacy has ended should not be making public decisions.
Chapman Street provides a sense of ownership, a place where the color of one’s skin makes no difference, and where insults, both subtle and not so subtle, are not heard.
A FEMA spokesperson at a recent meeting said that agency would consider Stanley White’s “historic and cultural significance” in its funding decision.
The consensus in New Bern’s black communities is overwhelmingly to rebuild on the present site — this according to black leaders I have talked to — and that the Chapman Street’s role in New Bern’s past — its “historic and cultural significance” — should be weighed heavily.
I am of the same opinion.
John Phaup, New Bern