An Open Letter to Durham Parks and Recreation, Mayor Bill Bell, Mayor Pro-Tem Cora Cole-McFadden, City Council, and City Manager Tom Bonfield from the Durham Coalition for Urban Justice

March 21, 2011

An Open Letter to Durham Parks and Recreation, Mayor Bill Bell, Mayor Pro-Tem Cora Cole-McFadden, City Council, and City Manager Tom Bonfield from the Durham Coalition for Urban Justice

Dear Members of Durham City Council, City Manager, Parks and Recreation staff, and fellow Durham residents:

We strongly urge the City to cancel the next two Friends of Old North Durham Park-sponsored meetings about the future of Old North Durham Park and to hold a truly public meeting organized by the City alone.  A majority of neighborhood residents oppose the FONDP’s plans and its directing of the park development process, as evidenced by over 300 petition signatures, over 100 residents who attended the March 15 meeting to oppose the FONDP plans (despite less than five days notice), and the innumerable letters the City has received in opposition to FONDP. The expression of this consensus against private development of the park has occurred despite the FONDP’s refusal to even follow basic city guidelines to adequately publicize the meetings to community residents living in the park’s vicinity (as mandated by City Council and outlined by Parks and Recreation Director Rhonda Parker on November 3, 2010).  We suggest that public meetings resume with FONDP as one equal participant among all others.

We believe any legitimate public process must begin with the following premises as the foundation:

  1. That the city hold a truly public meeting about the future of the park where all residents have an opportunity to participate AS EQUALS –  with the FONDP eliminated as a co-sponsor of the meeting and invited to participate as one actor among others.
  2. Transparency and accountability in the public process – both an acknowledgement of bad faith initiatives enacted by these private entities in the past, as evidenced in city documents themselves, and full transparency in the future.
  3. The upgrading of the full-sized athletic field in the park that serves all of the people of the North Durham community and the larger city.

We look forward to participating in an open process and we hope that the city will move forward establishing one.

–Durham Coalition for Urban Justice (El Kilombo Intergaláctico, Team Soccer youth soccer group, North Durham Community Association, Park Justice, and concerned neighbors of North Durham)

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