Sunday: Residents say they feel safe at Fairmont Terrace
BY CARY ASPINWALL World Staff Writer & ZIVA BRANSTETTER World Enterprise Editor
Saturday, January 19, 2013
1/19/13 at 4:18 PM
People who’ve seen it on the news may think of it as a war zone, but those who live at Fairmont Terrace call it home.
“We’re kind of like a family,” said Betty Winston, 66, who moved to Fairmont Terrace about eight years ago from California. “We are all looking out for everybody.”
The complex is the kind of place where kids ride their bikes through the streets and every woman is an “auntie” who can tell them it’s time to get home, said Winston’s daughter, Jeanette, 50.
She lives in the same building as her mother at the sprawling complex at 1111 E. 60th St., close enough to yell from across a balcony.
“I can walk across the parking lot at 1 a.m. and nobody will mess with me. There’s nobody chasing nobody,” said Jeanette, who has lived at the complex for 14 years and raised her children there.
They are grown and gone now but Jeanette and her mom want to stay.
“I feel safe when we are here because we have security. It’s not the people who live here; it’s the people who come in,” she said.
It’s an argument repeated by many residents of the federally subsidized complex when asked about the sporadic violence there.
Eight people have been killed in the last two years at Fairmont Terrace, including four women gunned down inside an apartment Jan. 7. Police continue to investigate the deaths of Misty Nunley, 33; Julie Jackson, 55; Rebeika Powell, 23; and her twin sister Kayetie Powell Melchor, 23.
Property Manager Angela McGinnis said after the killings, television news stories depicted Fairmont as a “war zone.” In reality, it’s a place where residents hold cookouts, help each other through hard times and stick together, she said.
The complex held its first resident council meeting last month, drawing about 20 people. McGinnis said she expects turnout to grow.
Rochelle Remesar moved to Fairmont about 14 months ago from New Orleans and is already well known among residents for her cooking. Remesar, a single mother of an 8-year-old, volunteers at nearby Marshall Elementary and knows nearly all of the children who live in the complex.
When a fire swept through a building at Fairmont in August, management quickly moved displaced residents into new apartments and coordinated relief efforts for clothing and supplies, she said.
Residents escaped safely after a maintenance worker pounded on every door and helped firefighters locate a woman who had trouble escaping, Betty Winston said.
The women bristle at some portrayals they’ve seen of Fairmont Terrace as an uncaring place.
“A lot of people are saying that management doesn’t do nothing here. That’s a lie,” Remesar said, her eyes filling with tears. “I’ve never known so much compassion. She practically broke her back for the people in building four,” Remesar says, referring to McGinnis’ help after the fire.
Read more in Sunday's World.
Jeanette Winston (center) and her neighbors at Fairmont Terrace, Rochelle Remesar and Jessica Harshbarger (far left), talk outside their building on Friday evening in south Tulsa. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World