Angry neighbors lash out at groundbreaking

ST. LOUIS - A groundbreaking for a housing project in St. Louis Friday was overshadowed by a groundswell of anger.

The hard hats and shovels, the waiting crowd. The stage was set for a groundbreaking on Plymouth Avenue. But at this one, somebody went off script. John Reece and some of his neighbors crashed the occasion with concerns about what's called the Etzel Place Five Apartments.

The $7.5 million revitalization project by contractor CF Vatterott Construction includes six new low-income apartment buildings and renovation of six existing buildings.

"What about the people for the long haul that's going to live here, that's living here, and I plan on dying, leaving my kids in this house," Reece shouted to the project organizers.

The homeowners say they support affordable housing in their blighted community, but are opposed to low-income housing and they're against building a multi-family unit in a spot between houses.

"To keep the continuity of the homes and we as homeowners," said Nancy Foster. "We're like minded about cutting our grass and others because we own it."

"Both homeowners and renters can live together and create a better neighborhood. This development is a catalyst for future single home development," said Alderman Jeffrey Boyd, who represents the ward.

After the outbursts, the dirt was turned with the promise that this rough start is just the beginning. Reece says he'll try once more to get the project stopped. If that fails, he'll expect the project organizers to hear their concerns and address them.

A representative from Vatterott did not want to talk to NewsChannel 5 about the outburst at the groundbreaking and did not return our call later, but we did hear them say to the residents they would want to meet with them to address their concerns.


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