HHA Drops Newson Road Site, Hears Concerns from Winchester Community

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) --  There's a change in plans for the Huntsville Housing Authority.  The agency has decided to not pursue building public housing units at one of the locations they proposed earlier this year.  Originally, Housing Authority members thought the site on Newson Road might make a nice property for their residents.  However, they realized there was a "tremendous" number of registered sex offenders and other issues, so they took the site off the table.

"We looked at the level of poverty, the level of multifamily apartments that are currently in the community, and we felt that it did not meet our criteria for a suitable site," said Michael Lundy, Executive Director of the Huntsville Housing Authority.

The location is part of a proposed plan to build a total of 120 new public housing units. Now, only two sites remain viable: Research Park Boulevard between Highway 53 and Blake Bottom Road and Winchester Road across from Union Chapel Missionary Baptist Church.  "Currently there are no public housing units in either of those communities," said Lundy. "We looked at the level of poverty, and they are very low in poverty rates in those communities as well."

Several residents of the Winchester community spoke their peace at today's HHA work session. Many voiced concerns about what the multi-family dwellings will do to the face of their neighborhood. Leonard Chalk said that new public housing units will change the landscape of the area.  "We already have several apartment buildings, multi-family dwellings," said Chalk. "They're not public, they're private, but they are multi-family dwellings in that same general area."

Chalk told WHNT News 19 that it's not a selfish concern.  He is also worried that winchester road won't be a good location for the public housing residents. "Winchester road is a little ways out from the main parts of the city," he said. "The distance to grocery stores, banks, and other facilities, the transportation is limited."

Lundy answered questions and heard concerns at today's meeting. He told WHNT News 19 he is fully listening to everyone. "One of the concerns that we have heard expressed is the lack of transportation," said Lundy. "We are ensuring the community that any of our residents that should move there will have adequate transportation.

However, it's going to take a few more answers to convince Chalk. "I'm just concerned this is a done deal and they're not really interested in what we have to say."

Lundy told WHNT News 19 that the HHA is holding a meeting with the Winchester community on Tuesday evening at the Richard Showers Center. Housing Authority officials will be on hand to hear concerns from the area residents and take those into consideration before they offer a recommendation to the Board.