BY JAMES HARPER
A meeting of residents who live near a training center being constructed for Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) athletes will take place April 26 at the John H. Dickerson Center from 6 to 8 p.m.
It is not clear if B-CU President Dr. Trudie Kibbe Reed will be present at the meeting. Reed is expected to officially retire as the university’s president on May 13.
An initial press release sent to the Daytona Times this week stated that “Trudie Reed invites the Midtown Redevelopment board and the University’s community neighbors to a special presentation and dialogue concerning the proposed practice field adjacent to the Larry R. Handfield, Esq. Athletic Training Center.”
A revised press release removed Reed’s name and was replaced with “Bethune-Cookman University.” The revised release came after questions were e-mailed to attorney Debi La-Croix, who is representing the school on the construction project.
The Times wanted to know if Reed was actually going to be present.
Reed’s presence unclear
Reed was not present at the last meeting called by her last September to discuss the same issue. The Times also wanted to know what new information would be revealed that hadn’t been discussed at the last meeting which had no members of the Midtown Area Redevelopment Board in attendance even though they had been invited.
Attorney Robert Merrell responded and said only the school’s public information officer Meredith Rodriguez would address questions before the meeting. Merrell did not say if Reed would be in attendance.
The announcement said university will share architectural designs, the mission/vision of Bethune-Cookman University and discuss safety/landscaping features for the proposed new practice field to be located behind the training center at the corner of Lincoln and International Speedway Boulevard across from the B-CU Performing Arts Center.
A divide between B-CU and residents living near the new center was revealed at the last meeting last fall.
Reed had invited the community and members of the Midtown board to a meeting at the Richard V. Moore Community Center but she didn’t show up.
Needs board approval
The purpose of the Sept. 29 meeting was for B-CU to share plans for a practice field to be located behind the Larry Handfield Training Center being built on International Speedway Boulevard, across the street from the Performing Arts Center.
The original site plan was approved by the Midtown board in May 2010 without the practice field. Reed must get approval from the Midtown board and Daytona Beach’s city commission in order for a practice field to be built on the site.
Since the September meeting, the makeup of the Midtown board has changed.
Residents speak out
Attorney Pam Brown, the project manager for the Larry Handfield Training Center and practice field, told those attending the Sept. 29 meeting that Reed had attended two previous meetings and would not be at that one.
Sam Ferguson, owner of the Safari Lounge and part owner of an apartment building that would be behind the practice field if it is constructed, said he has a “problem with lights, noise for residents living in the area.’’
Community activist Norma Bland said at the last meeting to those representing Reed: “She (Reed) needs to be here to address the community. We have so much controversy. She needs to address our concerns. She needs to be here.’’
Engineer Parker Mynchenberg was surprised at the hostile environment.
“I usually don’t have this much trouble getting a permit,” he said, trying to explain to the residents the changes made to the plan, including more parking, a screening wall fencing and a synthetic turf field.
“There may be problems with students crossing the street,” said Mynchenberg, adding that there have been discussions of a crosswalk similar to the one that greets visitors to Daytona Beach on International Speedway Boulevard for racing visitors and the crosswalk on Clyde Morris for Embry Riddle students.
Mynchenberg also said there would be no activities after 11 p.m. at the site, lights would be turned off at 11, and that B-CU’s band would not be permitted to practice there. Residents also would be informed of special events. He added that the practice field would not just be for B-CU but for community activities as well.
The Handfield Training Center was expected to be completed in December.