Multiple officials expressed hope Monday evening during and after the fourth of four scheduled meetings between residents of Hamilton’s Second and Fourth wards and city officials about how to spur development where they live.
Residents and city officials left the meeting at the Booker T. Washington Community Center feeling the meetings set the table for progress in the communities, particularly as the proposed Spooky Nook gigantic indoor sports complex and convention center prepares to open in mid-2021.
“Personally, I think we’re headed in the right direction,” said Bob Harris, president of the South East Civic Association (SECA), which represents the two neighborhoods. “The next piece will be the outreach to as many people in the community and to sell the potential in the community for growth, jobs and businesses — a clean neighborhood, with a new outlook for growth.”
By May, a Miami University class plans to finish a development plan for the Second Ward, based on a gathering community residents had with the students during which Second Ward residents told the students about parts of the community that represented strengths for development, and weaknesses.
One thing some residents said they wished they had in the community, or at least closer to it, was a library branch to serve both children and adults who could benefit from things like computers to apply for jobs.
“I really like what I’m seeing, and there are multiple components to it, but we’ll have to add them as we go,” Harris said. “It’s not going to happen overnight, but we’re not going to take 20 years to get it done. I’m excited about it, and I think a lot of other people are as well.”
Harris and at least two other members of SECA plan to take a bus trip next week to the existing Spooky Nook facility near Manheim, Pa., to learn how it can benefit their neighborhoods with jobs and the potential to spur businesses.
Mayor Pat Moeller said he had hoped development would start in the Second Ward, creating a “domino effect” that would spark more development.
“Of all the Second Ward meetings, these are the four best that I’ve attended, because of this energy,” Moeller said.
The Rev. Harold Andrews said he also was encouraged.
“If you had asked me after meeting No. 1, what these four meetings would produce judging by meeting No. 1, I was very skeptical,” Andrews said. “Meeting No. 2 gave me great hope. No. 3 showed so much progress that I was excited about meeting No. 4. I think meeting No. 4 tells us we are on the right course, we’re headed in the right direction, and we will achieve. I believe it’s going to make our community a whole lot better.
“And I appreciate that.”