Mayor Nancy Vaughan said that the Pomona Park baseball field may be “the perfect place” for the Pallet shelter village to provide housing for homeless people this winter.
Wednesday, Dec. 21, Vaughan had invited councilmembers, City Manager Tai Jaiyeoba, the media and other interested parties to come to the Pomona Park baseball field where the Pallet shelter village is under construction to see the project in person.
Councilmembers Tammi Thurm, Nancy Hoffmann, Hugh Holston, Marikay Abuzuaiter and Zack Matheny were all in attendance.
The Pallet shelters appear to be well built and are mainly aluminum, not plastic as had been reported. It was about 32 degrees, but the electric heaters in the 64-square-foot buildings did a respectable job of keeping the interior warm, even though people were going in and out of the shelters.
The shelters have doors that lock and the city is spending a good bit of money putting in the infrastructure for the shelters that will be used to house a little fewer than 60 homeless people until some unspecified date in March.
Although it was stated that the infield of the ball field, which was built specifically for special needs children, would be fenced off from the Pallet homes; it isn’t entirely fenced off. The portion of the infield near first base is being used as the entrance for the two Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant Pallet shelters. Because those shelters have to meet ADA requirements, they will be one person shelters and the hard surface of the infield is being used to make them wheelchair accessible. The remaining 28 shelters are in the outfield and there will be a walkway to each one. The material for the walkways had not yet been delivered, but it reportedly is up to code.
The electrical lines for the shelters are currently being installed and are being buried. Since all 30 Pallet shelters will have electricity, there is a lot of electrical infrastructure work, most of it is being installed outside the outfield fence.
One of the questions that remained unanswered is why all of this infrastructure is being installed on a field to provide housing for less than 60 people for a period of less than three months.
Director of the Housing and Neighborhood Development Department Michelle Kennedy said that the NC Department of Insurance would only allow the Pallet shelters to be used as temporary housing for a maximum of 180 days.
But according to the current schedule, the Pallet shelters will be moved off the Pomona field in about 90 days to allow the field to go back to its original use as the only baseball field in Greensboro accessible for special needs children.
The first scheduled use of the baseball field by special needs children is in April and Vaughan offered assurances that the Pallet shelters would be removed and the field returned to playing condition well before the season begins.