Students march to raise awareness about possible rail yard facility

Metanoia March for Awareness

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- A new rail yard facility could be coming to the Chicora-Cherokee community in North Charleston. A march was organized to raise awareness about the possible negative impacts.

The large public works project will bring some opportunities, but there could be some negative effects on the neighborhood such as pollution and the demolition of the only community center.

Students piled out of Mary Ford Elementary Wednesday afternoon with signs and noisemakers as they marched toward Sterett Hall.

There were drums; there was whistling, and there was chanting. Their goal was to get people's attention and it worked.

"I heard the noise, the drums, the sirens and all that so I wanted to know what was going on," said Roberta Smith, who lives in the neighborhood.

The event was organized by the Youth at Metanoia, a community development corporation that works with neighborhoods.

"These kids have heard about what is happening and they formed their own opinions about what is going on and so they are out here saying hey we don't want this to happen either," said Jacques Johnson, with the Metanoia YouthProgramm.

But it's more than the kids who are concerned.

"We are trying to save Sterett Hall. This is a commodity in the community," said Toni Las, who lives in the Chicora-Cherokee Neighborhood. "Children go there when they can't go nowhere else and burn off steam, do what they want to do best, play basketball. And besides that, they have other functions going on there too."

But in addition to possibly losing the only community center in the area, there could be negative effects on the environment.

"Along with the kids making noise because the rail yard is going to bring noise and wearing masks because rail yard brings air pollution and carrying banners, we are also passing out flyers in the neighborhood to tell folks kind of educate them," said Bill Stanfield, the CEO at Metanoia.

Stanfield and others with Metanoia say that will continue to work in the community to help make it be a better place, and will do all they can to mitigate the negative effects if the rail yard facility does become a reality.

There is no timeline on the demolition of Sterett Hall according to the City of North Charleston. As far as possible pollution because of the rail yard, the Army Corps of Engineers is working on a statement.