City breaks ground on Portia Hines Park improvements, teen advocates honored
WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Dozens came out for a ceremony at a Wilmington park on Monday, celebrating the start of a project that’s been in the works for years.
Portia Mills Hines Park is located on 10th Street in Wilmington’s Northside community. In 2018, a group of teens started petitioning city leaders to make improvements to the neglected park.
“We knew that we wanted bathrooms, we was using other people’s bathrooms around the community,” said teen Sai-meya Williams. “We would also use our flashlights to play basketball late nights on the court.”
The park used to have restrooms, water fountains, and lighting until around three decades ago. The neighborhood was experiencing some difficulties in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and the city demolished the structures in an effort to cut down on crime.
Now, the neighborhood has gone through some changes, and those in the community were ready for the park to change too. Sai-meya and Lai-neya Williams and Shakeirah Brown, members of the youth Voyage Community Council started a petition, and city leaders responded.
“I really want to say it was the young people that came to us, it was these young ladies that came to us and advocated and went through a process,” said Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo. “And of course, working through that process and showing them how that process works was very important to us too.”
Mayor Saffo recognized the teens for their efforts during Monday’s ceremony. Councilmembers Clifford Barnett, Charlie Rivenbark, Kevin Spears, and New Hanover County Commissioner Rob Zapple were also present.
“This is what it’s all about, is citizens coming together and working together to make this happen,” Saffo said.
The three teens say they’re proud to see their efforts prove successful.
“We started off from nothing to something, so it feels like we are making history,” Sai-meye Williams said.
“Paving the way for the youth,” Brown said.
The $725,300 project is expected to be complete in spring 2022.
You can read more about the project here.
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