Randy Goodin knows what it’s like to have little control over a development that will have a huge impact on his neighborhood.
And he isn’t the only one.
When plans to construct a Circle K gas station and convenience store on the edge of the Central Park subdivision at Sheek and Worthsville roads became known, Goodin and neighbors Mark Wiggam, Angela Stelljes, Carissa Dukes and Susan Jerger rallied residents from their neighborhood and surrounding subdivisions to speak against the plans in an attempt to stop the project.
Wiggam created a Facebook group called “We’re not okay with Circle K”; and in the first three days, the group attracted 250 members who live in or near the Central Park subdivision.
Stelljes spoke to the Greenwood City Council, voicing concerns the neighborhood had. And Dukes, Goodin and Jerger worked with Wiggam and Stelljes on a presentation for the board of works and public safety.
In just three weeks, that Facebook group grew to about 600 members and includes residents from subdivisions all along Worthsville Road, where new development will soon fill empty fields once the Interstate 65 interchange construction is complete.
Their most recent efforts prompted more than 100 residents to attend a board of public works and safety meeting.
The collective interest of all the residents who want to ensure new development such as Circle K doesn’t happen near their neighborhoods has evolved into a committee that will now serve as an advocate for better development near the new I-65 interchange.
The group, Concerned Citizens of Southeast Greenwood, continues to grow. Stelljes, Jerger, Dukes, Wiggam and Goodin are leading the charge for residents who live in subdivisions along Worthsville Road.
“These people need a voice,” Goodin said. “We are a caring, compassionate group of neighbors. It’s not just Central Park. There’s so much more to be developed down here; and it’s not that we don’t trust the city, but instead of letting everything coast along, let’s be proactive.”
The group will serve as a voice for residents in the vicinity of the new Worthsville interchange and undeveloped land that covers the area around subdivisions such as Sweetgrass, along with Central Park.
When the five who headed the Circle K efforts were receiving feedback on the Facebook page, they realized residents who live in subdivisions outside Central Park were commenting with concerns and frustrations and that they needed to extend their reach with a name that incorporated all the surrounding neighborhoods, Wiggam said.
The group plans to have a uniform style of handling concerns and questions, just as they have with the Circle K project, Goodin said.
The committee will go to city council meetings and board of works meetings when necessary to stay involved with the development of the area and the city’s plans going forward, Goodin said.
Goodin, Wiggam and Stelljes said part of the problem with the Circle K development is that they were uninformed. The residents in Central Park didn’t know soon enough with regard to what the area was zoned for, Stelljes said. If residents had known sooner, there might have been a chance to change the plans for the site where Circle K is building.
“Our immediate goal is to get involved with the city council and start attending meetings to be more aware of what is going on around us,” Goodin said. “Will we have a say in everything? Probably not. But at least we will know what’s going on, and we won’t be caught unaware again.”
The Concerned Citizens of Southeast Greenwood will focus on what type of retail and commercial development will go in near the interchange, Goodin said.
Big-box retailers and restaurants will be among the group’s biggest concerns. Busy retail stores that create a lot of traffic and what the group called unhealthy restaurants would be development the group would be concerned with, Goodin said.
“We’re trying to be feasible about this,” Goodin said. “Traffic concerns, businesses that send unhealthy toxins into the air; I don’t want anything that will contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle. So we’re trying to raise awareness and be more involved and concerned about what goes in around us.”