Newtown residents upset over memorial wall removal

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SARASOTA - Members of Sarasota's Newtown community want answers from the city after the removal of a memorial wall. The community says they raised the funds and put up the wall, so they want to know why it has been removed.

"We are past angry", says Newtown community activist Barbara Langston.

She says her anger stems from the removal of memorial plaques placed on a wall at the Fred Glossie Atkins Park.  "The city feels that in this black community they can just come in here and do whatever they want to do, and we are not consulted we are not involved, but we put that wall up, that's our history," Langston added.

The now empty park walls once held several plaques and pictures of historical figures who helped in the establishment of the Newtown community.

Langston isn't alone in her anger.  "The city maintains this park, but they are not to be coming in and arbitrarily moving things without checking with the organizations that's responsible or at lease advise them that you have a problem and your going to address it", said Johnny Hunter Sr.

So we took their concerns to the city of Sarasota and found out the city was working with someone responsible for getting the information to the community.  "Its unfortunate and I apologize for the miscommunication, but all the other projects that we had going on with this gentleman, the information was being put out," said Todd Kucharski from the city's Public Works Department.

He also says the city removed the memorial plaque to repair the wall.  In addition to the plaques, the city removed tiles that lined the wall and replaced them with stucco.  The current plan is to paint and then replace the removed plaques, but that explanation isn't pleasing to everyone.

"The problem is it's just like someone coming into your house and making up your bed. They changing all your sheets and even though it might be nice they didn't ask, they didn't get permission. And the same thing here that came into our community and didn't ask," said Danny Preston.

Langston also says "If this wall need repairs or whatever it needed, they knew they were supposed to come to the community."

The city also says the plaques will be back on the wall by the end of the month.