A group of politicians and York city officials met under a white tent on the site of the former Helen Thackston Park on Friday to listen to remarks and look at an artist's rendering of a new housing development project.
But across West College Avenue, residents who might be impacted by the housing changes to come said they still need more information about where they'll be living next year.
Richard Fox, executive director of the York Housing Authority, spoke at the ground-breaking event for the Homes at Thackston Park, more than five years in the making and funded from a federal tax credit program.
"This city continues to attract large-scale investment," he said. "That's the big message here."
The $12 million project includes 13 buildings, a new playground and a community center all at the former city-owned park, north of West College Avenue between South Newberry Street and Brooklyn Avenue, according to the authority. The completed project will feature 39 units of tax-credit housing, officials said.
That work must be completed by the end of 2013 to conform with federal guidelines, Fox said.
The deal also included a land swap between the authority and the City of York. In exchange for the 41/2-acre park, the city received nearly the same amount of land for a new park from the authority-owned Codorus Homes development across West College Avenue.
Officials have said 28 homes along that tract will be razed, and residents relocated.
Craig Zumbrun, authority deputy executive director, said the authority has until mid-2014 to complete that move. Six of the 28 homes have been cleared so far, he said. Residents have been sent notices, and are given the option to find other Section 8 housing, or receive a voucher toward rent at any private site.
Housing authority officials are meeting with residents to make clear the options, he said.
But at Codorus Homes, residents said despite the meetings, the future remains unclear.
"It keeps flip-flopping," said Shaydis Mack, who lives with her four children. "I just want to know before winter comes."
Neighbor Sharlene Reid, who's lived for two years in a two-bedroom home with her son, said another meeting with officials was scheduled for Friday night.
"We want to be prepared, but we are so confused," she said. "We just sit and watch and wait."
Down the street, 20-year resident Nilda Barrios said she wasn't yet sure if hers is one of the affected housing units. She planned to attend another meeting.
"It's scary," she said, her dog Benny yipping at the bulldozers across the street. "This is home."
Homes at Thackston Park
Features of the new housing development in York include:
--- Rents between $300 and $900 per month
--- Community center with kitchen and event area
--- New playground and "parkettes" with green space
--- Two entrances/exits onto West College Avenue; one onto South Newberry Street