At one time young people played baseball, ran and played, while enjoying a snack from the concession stand. Now Rose Street Park in Sciotoville is overrun. The building is completely destroyed inside, and nearly completely destroyed outside.
Now Portsmouth Mayor Jane Murray wants to come up with $30,000 to restore the facility to its former glory and to allow children to start playing ball there soon again.
“For the last three years I have been going to city council and I have been going to the previous mayor and the previous service department and director; asking them about cleaning this up for our kids,” community member Jeff Dempsey said. “Not only to play baseball, but it is just a hazard. Every time, I was stonewalled or I was told some kind of explanation. At one time there were about 10 to 15 dumpsters down here, and some of them had casters on them. And I noticed the main garage door here had been caved in one time. They took a dumpster and actually rolled it down and used it as a battering ram to gain access to the property.”
The entire garage door was gone, large holes were visible in the metal roof, graffiti was spray painted over nearly every inch of the building, burned debris was piled inside and out, and all of the stainless steel fixtures and copper wiring had been stripped from the inside.
“Since Mayor Murray has been in office, I have spoke with her several times on it, and Councilman Noel, and today is the first real effort by the city of Portsmouth to come and look at our problem,” Dempsey said.
Dempsey said it is imperative to repair and renovate the park for the children in the community. That was the same goal of Sixth Ward City Councilman Rich Noel.
“This was my first endeavor,” Noel said. “It was to try to get this fixed up and to try to get that light on down at Walnut Street. The prior administration set out to buck me on everything I tried to do. And they did a pretty good job of it. And that’s the reason I’m still hanging in there trying to get this done. And believe me it wasn’t torn up quite this bad when I started, but they allowed the vandals to come in. We got the gate put back up. And then they tore it down.”
The citizens waited to hear from Murray as to her plans for the facility.
“These are the kinds of projects the city should be doing, looking at the basic services of a city. That includes our parks and our neighborhoods, and this one has been neglected,” Murray told the Portsmouth Daily Times in front of the ruins that was once a solid building. “It is really a shame. A lot of the infrastructure that has been put in here with the buildings and the ballparks themselves were tremendous resources. And now they have been destroyed. So, as I have said, we’re going to redevelop our neighborhoods, and that includes our neighborhood parks and facilities.”
Sciotoville Community School Board President Bill Shope talked about the disparity between things in the city of Portsmouth and the Sciotoville community.
“Far too long there has been more taken out of our community than what’s been put back into our community,” Shope said. “And we’re hoping today that it kind of reverses that trend and we get the same opportunities as everybody else within the city limits.”
Shope talked about plans for a youth baseball program the community hopes to get started this year, eventually returning to Little League status in the near future.
“I’m hoping we can get a lot of people to help,” Shope said. “We’re hoping to get started in the next couple of days. We have been doing some things. And finally, with the approval of our high school governing board — I need to get their approval first — but we do have monies available from a program that we participated in that couldn’t be used for general fund or compensation issues. It could only be used for community improvement. And as a good start to the city and as an act of good faith, we’d like to put in anywhere from $2,500 to $3,000 of the money we earned to get this project jump-started.”
Murray looked at the big picture involved in the project for the future.
“What I have discussed with the neighborhood is that we would go forward with a plan to get the ballfields operational this summer and try to start working on the buildings. Then we will put together a plan over the summer and into the fall with the whole community about the parks and leisure time opportunities in the area,” Murray said. “Looking at things such as walking trails — we know that health and fitness is an important issue in this country. And so if we can be doing that ourselves, and teaching our children as part of it. This kind of activity is important to children as they grow up.”