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Plan for Crystal Cove center held up
Residents divided over plan
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Forsyth County News

Residents of a northeastern Forsyth County neighborhood remain divided while awaiting the verdict on a proposed youth community center.

County commissioners postponed a decision at Thursday night's meeting, but not before hearing from many in the Crystal Cove Trail neighborhood.

Some residents contend the planned 5,000-square-foot center, which would require an exception to zoning rules, is sorely needed. Others say it would be a negative for the community and is unnecessary.

Resident Rich Marcom said nearby churches could offer assistance to youth.

"There's no need for us to build a community rescue center," Marcom said.

A decision could come at the Feb. 19 commission meeting. In the meantime, Commissioner Patrick Bell, whose district includes the neighborhood, hopes to find a compromise in a meeting with both sides Feb. 9.

For the past five years, community missionary Bill Levin has focused efforts on the youth of Crystal Cove Trail, holding Bible studies and group discussions with neighborhood teenagers and young adults.

As it stands, youth crowd the home of resident Priscilla Pruitt every Friday, the group's current meeting place.

"I've seen up to 55 kids in my house," she said. "My bedrooms, my living room, my laundry room and my kitchen have been split up for group studies."

Pruitt said they've been working with the young people, trying to "help them to become better people and help to build our community."

"I'm begging you to consider this," she said. "This will make a difference in our community because it's building people up. It's building children up to become responsible adults."

Marcom said the neighborhood program is "not working."

"I wonder why the community can't embrace the Boy Scout program or the Girl Scout program," he said.

Jill Martin also opposed the center.

"It would cause an increase of traffic and noise in our neighborhood," she said "A center will be a visual intrusion on our peace and privacy."

Bell told both groups Thursday he was "bothered by a couple things."

"Issues of home values, income, what their profession may be, what their education may be ... these things make no difference if somebody's a citizen of this community," Bell said.

"I will not mediate issues of income from people who believe one side is more powerful than the other based on what they may have or do not have."

It was the second public discussion of the proposal in less than a month.

Commissioners postponed a decision Dec. 30 after both sides traded jabs. At that meeting, one resident told the board a majority of those in favor of the community center were renters.

Homeowner Anne Beck, however, attended Thursday's meeting to support the center.

"This matter affects the entire community," Beck said. "Why exclude the renters?"

Local attorney Ethan Underwood, who is representing the center advocates, said letters informing the community about the proposed structure have gone out since 2006.

About three years ago, Pruitt walked the neighborhood, gathering 120 signatures in support of the center. Some of those same people now oppose the plan.