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.

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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

5 Comments

  1. I would hope that SWRC will remain at its present site. I am so tired of hearing/ predicting future floods.
    If the city and board members do the right thing, that area of land can be built up.
    It’s a known fact, that the city of New Bern and those who are making decisions for the Black community has NEVER been honest; and CANNOT be trusted. Stop the procrastinating…it’s been too long..DO THE RIGHT THING.
    Integrity is a MUST

  2. Excellent letter. Pay attention Aldermen and women.

    1. Did you all attend last evening’s board meeting?

  3. I wish the New Bern community would stop with this racial divide and become ONE unified community.

    The Stanley White Recreation Center belongs to all citizens of the City of New Bern.

    Moving the SWRC to Gaston St relieves the City of New Bern of the annual $100k flood insurance payment.

    If the residents of Duffyfield feel so strong that the Stanley White Recreation Center belongs to them, then they should pay the required $100,000 a year flood insurance.

  4. We were deeply disturbed however, by a discussion at the last City board meeting: the location for rebuilding the Stanley White Recreation Center. Alderwoman Harris’ commitment to her Ward and her passion to serve on their behalf is to be commended. We would expect nothing less. As a member of the Board of Aldermen, she also serves for the greater good of New Bern and above all else, must show respect for others, especially her peers, the staff and our Mayor. Board members are leaders in our community and we acknowledge the hard work and difficulty in trying to please all constituents. Setting an example of respect, courtesy and cooperation is paramount.

    We have followed the discussion on the rebuilding of the Stanley White Recreation Center since Hurricane Florence flooded the site and have attempted to better understand the debate on rebuilding on the same site vs. rebuilding close by, still in Duffyfield, but out of the flood plain, a larger and less expensive per square foot structure.

    The history of the Stanley White Recreation Center is impressive and a jewel in the crown of this community. The word ‘community’ must mean ALL of New Bern and not just one neighborhood. The frequent use of the word ‘community’ by Alderwoman Harris was perhaps confused with a more appropriate and intentional word — “neighborhood”. Mr. White’s legacy is an unforgettable treasure for all of New Bern citizens and one to be shared. We understand that the facility was originally built for the benefit of the African-American community at a time when separate but equal facilities were required in lieu of integration. At this time, we are in support of efforts to heal wounds, not further separate from past harmful actions.

    We are in favor of the proposed new site, still located in Duffyfield, only 600+ feet from the original structure because:

    The proposed new site is still within the Duffyfield neighborhood which is recognized and important.

    The proposed re-build site is out of the flood plain.

    The proposed re-build site is a lower cost per square foot AND allows for a larger more inclusive facility.

    The proposed site will be available to the community and taxpayers of New Bern.

    To rebuild the facility in the original flood-plain site with an unreasonable demand for a larger building is not fiscally responsible. A larger building is already proposed for the new site. We do have a right as New Bern citizens, stakeholders and taxpayers to voice our concerns and request a more respectful, civilized and cooperative discussion and resolution to building a facility that serves all of our community. We are in support of the Board’s existing work, to gather information and await FEMA’s input and response. And we hope further discussion will be one of cooperation, collaboration and benefit all.

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