About 40 people filled the library at Albert Harris Elementary School Monday night for Martinsville City Council’s Westside neighborhood meeting. Several city residents used the opportunity to express their displeasure with council, the new Five Points neighborhood, and share their thoughts on the city’s proposed reversion.
A woman who introduced herself as Glendolia, but has since been identified by multiple sources as Glendolia Price, said she lives on 5th Street in Martinsville; worked for 30 years in the school system and 10 years in the Commissioner of Revenue’s office. Initially, she expressed concern about people riding a four-wheeler in the streets, sometimes with a small child on the back, but soon turned to other subjects.
“I’m not pleased with the city council,” she said. “Those houses down on Church Street (the new Five Points neighborhood), they’re built too close to the street.”
She said she was concerned about a child walking out of the front door of one of the homes and into the busy street. “He’s going to get killed or get hurt. And I don’t want my house facing those cars,” she said.
“You say you’re trying to do better about Martinsville? We need to get it together. We need some new vision. It’s okay to have old vision, but we need some new vision. You’re talking about not keeping people here in the city? It’s because we don’t have any new vision.”
Noting that areas of the county -including Bassett and Ridgeway – hold parades, and that Bassett has a cruise-in, Price said “you’re not encouraging people to hold anything here. You need some new vision, you need some young people, some people that are going to get out and make this a better city. We don’t need to revert. I’m 73-years-old, I don’t want to revert.”
Price said the city does not need to revert.
“We’ve come this far. Why do we want to turn and go back? You’re going to have to pay county tax, pay city tax, a lot of things are going to change that we really don’t know about.”
She said if she wanted to live in the county, she would have moved to the county.
“I was always told if you had something to say, you say it to their face so, I’m saying I’m not pleased. I refuse to believe this (city) needs to revert to a town. The city has more money than you think they have. I do believe that.”
Minister Malvester Muhammad agreed.
“I’ve heard people campaign. They say they’re going to do this or do that, but when they get into office,” they do not follow through on campaign promises, he said.
“We want people to come into city council that will break that mindset, because it’s not good for this city, it’s not good for our community, and it’s never been good for us as a people. Never has. Change has to come, and change is hard … but change is good for everybody once it’s done.
“We all have to learn how to understand and respect and give justice to everybody in the city, but we haven’t learned that yet, and because of that, this city is suffering. And it’s suffering because you won’t give justice to the citizens,” he said.
About the Five Points neighborhood, Dixon said “I don’t know who’s vision it is, but it’s not good.”
He said he understood that current council members did not bring the city to its current state, “but I look for you all to do better than they did, and if you don’t do it then you’re just like they are.”
Reversion, he said, would not be good for the city.
“Martinsville can make it on its own,” he said, “but Martinsville has to clean up some things that they have done.” He asked what happened to cause the city’s population to decline. “For every cause, there’s an effect, he pointed out. “It wasn’t an accident.”
“The county wants to spend money for a jail, but they want to close schools in Martinsville, how does that look? We care about putting people in jail, but we don’t care about our children,” he said.
He noted there were mostly elderly people attending the meeting that night. “We’re the setting suns. The rising suns aren’t here because they don’t like what you’re doing,” he told council. “We need some new ways, some new understandings, because the old stuff doesn’t work anymore. The old day is over with.”
Other concerns raised by residents over the course of the hour-and-a-half meeting included issues with speeding vehicles, uncut grass, rats, and trash in and around properties.