News & Opinion » News

Housing dispute prompts EMMA revolt


The East Main, Mustard, and Atlantic Avenue Neighborhood Association has pulled out of a major neighborhood revitalization program because of a disagreement over a planned $17 million housing project on East Main Street.

Connected Communities, Inc. is a recently formed nonprofit whose primary mission is to steer revitalization of the EMMA and Beechwood neighborhoods; both have a major interest in seeing East Main Street improve. The nonprofit is partnered with Purpose Built Communities, which is credited with improving depressed neighborhoods in more than a dozen cities.

Dorothy Parham, founder of EMMA, along with some EMMA residents and allies from nearby neighborhoods, are firm in their opposition to the Hillside-Home Leasing housing project. They say it's too big and doesn't fit the character of the neighborhood. Parham was kicked off of CCI's board as a result of her opposition, and in return EMMA severed ties with the nonprofit.

Calls to Connected Communities, Inc. for this story were not returned in time for publication .

No one is against development, but projects shouldn't be forced on the neighborhood, Parham says. Adding a multi-unit structure and about 200 more residents to EMMA in its current challenged state would hurt the neighborhood instead of help it, she says. While it would add new residents, it would displace others, she says.

The project has been rejected by the City Planning Commission twice, despite a reduction in units from 80 to 76. It comes before the Planning Commission again at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, September 12, in City Council chambers at City Hall, 30 Church Street.

EMMA residents have their own plan to revitalize their neighborhood, which calls for helping elderly cash-strapped residents with repairs on neglected properties and cleaning up East Main Street.

This is a corrected version of this story