SAVANNAH, Ga (WSAV) — The City of Savannah is in the hot seat today. They are getting grilled by current and former residents of historic Yamacraw Village.
Housing and neighborhood services want feedback from people who live there through a survey, but residents we talked to today say they don’t trust it.
“If you fill out a survey, it’s just going to sit on somebody’s desk,” said Yamacraw Resident Bridgette Nevels. “So, it’s like you’re giving your opinion and they don’t care; they’re going to still do what they want to do.”
A handful of skeptical residents turned out for the first of two open house meetings about historic preservation at Yamacraw Village on Monday.
But most people had other, more pressing concerns.
“Like the pipes, the water, a lot of people are dealing with mold, infestation, bugs,” Yamacraw Resident Sophia Perry told News 3.
Hosted by the City of Savannah to gather input about historic buildings and significant cultural sites, the feedback was supposed to be confined to this survey.
But, residents wanted to talk.
Former Yamacraw Resident LaRay Benton said, “If no one is able to actually verbally speak, how are you going to properly record any public input into the historical assessment?”
When asked beyond the survey, will he be having any sort of public meeting where folks can come and speak? Fretty responded saying, “Uhhh, that is not something that we’re planning to do right now.”
Back in 2021, the Department of Housing and Urban Development denied the Housing Authority of Savannah’s request to demolish and redevelop Yamacraw, because of, among other reasons, a lack of public input.
Fretty says that’s the purpose of Monday’s open houses—but specifically about historic preservation and not the future redevelopment of the site.
“They’re welcome to talk about that too, but we’re not here today to litigate that,” Fretty said.
The City is required, by federal law, to get input on historic and cultural preservation as well as look at any potential environmental impacts. Once that’s complete, the City and the Housing Authority will come up with a memorandum of agreement. The findings will then be published and open to public comment.