Uproar continues over Westbard development plans

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One quaint church has remained quiet as its surrounding area is developing rapidly, that is, until recently.
 
“I am not happy about it,” said Reverend Segun Adebayo, Pastor at Macedonia Baptist Church.
 
The Westwood Shopping Center Sketch Plan in Westbard includes construction on what could be a historic African American burial site.
 
The Parks and Planning Department brought this possibility to the attention of a nearby Macedonia Baptist Church.
 
“We really do share the concerns of the community, and we have since 2014, when we started the planning process,” said Gwen Wright, Planning Director.
 
The possible African American cemetery is suspected to lie behind the Westwood Towers. 
 
The nearly 100-year-old church requested that Thursday’s meeting at the Planning Department, which considered the development project’s plans, to be canceled altogether.
 
Reverend Adebayo said he doesn’t understand the desire to rush forward, instead of waiting several weeks for the cemetery site to be thoroughly surveyed.
 
“They choose to hold a hearing today, so we choose to come here to express our protest and disagreement with the way they are going forward with the process,” said Adebayo.
 
In Thursday’s meeting, the Planning Department excluded the section involving the possible burial grounds in hopes to achieve a compromise.
 
“We’re trying to find that good middle-ground, where we let that good project that has these benefits move forward, while having the area that is directly, potentially [a] cemetery delineation area. [We hope to] have that wait until there can be further investigation,” said Wright.
 
Further planning for this area is put on hold until the archeological study is complete, which is expected over the next couple months.
 
“I hope that the land will be dedicated to the public, so that we can build a museum on the land to commemorate the life of the people that once lived in that community,” said Adebayo.

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