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From the archives: North Richmond’s unrealized future

West County Times (Richmond, CA)

May 20, 2001

 
Edition: Final
Section: West County
Page: a27
Editor note: This article, from May 2001, draws a harsh spotlight on just how short we have come toward achieving the expectations so many had for North Richmond.  
 
Topics:

Index Terms:
Community, Neighborhood, Meeting, Address

 

GROUP OF CITIZENS WANTS BIG CHANGES
* NORTH RICHMOND RESIDENTS ARE FORMULATING A PLAN TO MAKE THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD A BETTER PLACE TO LIVE
Author: KATE DARBY RAUCH, TIMES STAFF WRITER

NORTH RICHMOND A nice-sized grocery store in a central location. Multilingual information about the links between asthma and air pollution. Old-style policing where officers walk the streets, pausing to chat with neighbors over a cup of coffee. 

These are some of the top goals set by of a group of residents and community activists involved in a county-sponsored effort to improve their neighborhood. 

About 25 people involved in the Healthy Neighborhoods Project met Saturday at the Multicultural Senior Center to discuss North Richmond‘s good points and trouble spots and develop an improvement priority list. 

This is the second year the project, run by the Contra Costa County Health Department, has worked to turn dreams into tangible changes in this unincorporated community near the Richmond Parkway. The project also has programs in Richmond‘s Iron Triangle neighborhood, San Pablo and Pittsburg. 

Last year the North Richmond efforts resulted in a new mailbox in a central location, a stop sign at a dangerous intersection and a bus shelter. 

But that was just a start, and much more needs to be done, said organizers Saturday. 

“There’s a lot of things going on in our community that need taking care of,” said Rose Sidney, a retired probation officer who was raised in North Richmond

A few weeks before Saturday’s meeting, the group walked the neighborhood “mapping” community assets and weaknesses. 

Strengths included cultural diversity, new family and senior housing facilities, the county-run Center For Health, churches, child care facilities, and neighborhood cleanups. 

Weaknesses included crime, loitering in front of liquor stores, clutter in some yards, pollution from nearby industries and the lack of services, including a grocery store, restaurant and bank. 

Saturday’s discussion narrowed down the map, prioritizing what issues the group should tackle first. 

Health, crime and services topped the list. 

Solutions suggested included having more clear and concise health education information in a variety of languages available; having more police on the streets and improving relations between officers and residents; and establishing a community-run grocery store. 

“If we can get violence wiped out, that will take care of a multitude of things; if we get some services to come in, that will take care of a multitude of things,” said Willie Mae Johnson, a mental health specialist at La Cheim School and a longtime resident. 

Next, the group will present its list to local political and government leaders, asking for support and assistance in turning at least some ideas into realities. A tentative meeting is planned for June 30. 

Healthy Neighborhoods, launched about five years ago, is designed to help residents get involved in making improvements where they live, said Roxanne Carrillo, project manager. The county acts as facilitator, but the action is done by locals, she said. “Residents set the agenda.” 

Many at Saturday’s meeting said it was a good start. 

“Even though this is a small group, this is a group that’s concerned,” said Michael Moore, pastor of the End Times Harvest Ministries. “We’re taxpayers; we want the community needs to be addressed.” 

For more information on the Healthy Neighborhoods Project, call the county’s Community Wellness and Prevention Program at 925-313-6810.