Currently enjoying my position as an Account Manager at WVEC ABC13 in Norfolk, Va. I have a production background in the business and I'm a mass communications graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University. You won't find a more positive, passionate news junkie than me! Please e-mail me at MelissaStephenson24@gmail.com with any comments/questions.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Monroe Park Renovations
Monroe Park Renovations is a television news package that I wrote, reported and edited. My story was chosen to be one of two published on the local Richmond NBC 12 website. This is my most recent television package, but it was done in 2011 so keep in mind i'm using it for my work and content not the most recent advances on this subject! Thanks!
In addition here is what I wrote for my web version of this story....
Project- Controversy Arises with Plans to Renovate Monroe Park
RICHMOND, VA (WVCU) -
Along with a new jail and plans to expand city roads, Mayor Dwight Jones also
has serious renovation plans for Monroe Park.
There has been talk for
a few years now about plans to renovate Monroe Park and to make it more
inviting. Many people use the park in Richmond for sports, leisure time and
school activities. But for the homeless, it’s place to spend their daylight
One local homeless man
Bill Hill believes that the park will never be closed for any reason. They keep
talking about it but I don’t see them doing it because there are just too many
homeless people. He says “Where are they going to go?”
mayor has set aside $1.9 million in park renovation funds through his 2012-2013
biennial budget for the city. However, an issue raised by the renovation plans
is what happens to the homeless when that park is closed for a facelift. Will
it cause homeless shelters, alley ways and parks may to be over populated with homeless
people who have nowhere else to go.
organizations that aid homeless people in Monroe Park are insisting that the
renovations do not disrupt the care they give to the homeless. Groups Such as
“Food not Bombs” believe that their work is even more important.
groups, such as the “Wingnut Anarchist Collective,” have decided to take
matters into their own hands. A camp was built up and signs went up about a
month ago as the group sat in Monroe Park and made it obvious that they were
not ok with the park closing to the homeless for any reason.
a result of this act nine people, many of whom had no permanent address
themselves, were charged with trespassing after staying in the park after the
sun had set, which city laws do not permit. Acts like these will most likely
not end until the final decision is made and/or renovations begin for good.
In addition, many
facilities which are used to help the homeless around the city are beginning to
worry about the impact closing the park to the homeless may have on them as well.
Sterling Severns, Pastor at Tabernacle Baptist Church, volunteers in a group
that gives food and clothes to the homeless once a week. Seeing the homeless
problem first hand makes him worried that they may be forgotten about.
Severns hopes that the
way authorities will look at is as though “it’s not um, a were closing the
park, therefore you have to go somewhere else, it’s were closing the park so
let’s see what we can do to take care of you.” Severns is aware that his church
may need to expand their help, which they do in partnership with the Richmond
Food Bank, if the homeless do end up with nowhere else to go.
On the other hand,
people like James Thompson believe as though the homeless are the reason
Richmond’s oldest park has gotten so run down and that they need to be
relocated. Thompson provides services to the homeless in many states through
ministry and feels as though “If you see any trash it did not come from anybody
at VCU or walking through here. It comes from the homeless people. It’s like
they got an attitude I don’t care. So if they close it down, hey, they did it.”
Thompson also noted
that over the few days he spent in Monroe Park he saw many illegal activities
going on. Two instances resulted in people being arrested for selling
marijuana. With experiences like these people like Thompson tend to develop
negative opinions about the homeless people living their day lives in the park.
As the number of
homeless people in Monroe Park grows, so do the concerns of residents who use
the park and local authorities. The good news, for some, is no renovations will
begin until all funds are raised. We will know if the mayor’s budget is approved
in late May.