Community input wanted on Harriet Tubman Homes site

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — After the former site of the Harriet Tubman homes was rezoned to manufacturing, activists and city council members say it is important to get community input as they move forward.

Changes are in the works for a field off Roanoke Avenue. Public housing units, known as the Harriet Tubman Homes, sat there until 2014, when the city bought the land.

Members of the Unity Group say the city was midway through a planning process when they announced it was going to be zoned as manufacturing.

“There was a hope that whatever they came up with would allow some form of mixed use, maybe some office maybe some retail, maybe some housing, but they decided to zone it manufacturing,” said Helen Burns Sharp, with the Unity Group of Chattanooga.

Members of the group hope this will help revitalize the area.

“Now it is going to be manufacturing, we know that, but what goods and services are provided, such as job training, specialized skills training, learning or resource center, daycare centers and those opportunities to help it be more viable and sustainable for all people in the future,” said Eric Atkins, with the Unity Group of Chattanooga.

They think it is important to get community input.

“We feel that a community benefits agreement that actually benefits the public and the residents and active stakeholders in the community would be the most efficient and productive use to provide goods and services to the residents on the ground.”

Anthony Byrd, a city council member, agrees.

“Right now we are putting a committee together of community stakeholders to make sure that the community voice is heard,” Byrd said.

Once a manufacturing facility comes in, there is hope it will attract residents and businesses.

“We just got to find that anchor to draw the attention to the area because right now no one is buying into this community,” Byrd said.

The Unity Group of Chattanooga plans to have a town hall in March.

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