Of what value to a community is a dilapidated old park, overgrown with weeds surrounded by rusted out chain link fence and weeds growing through the asphalt? It’s only real value to the Santa Fe neighborhood was a repository of used drug needles and even a 30.06 rifle tossed over the fence.
For more than 25 years the park on 2nd Street near Maine Avenue sat as an unused eyesore.
A few months back, through the City, 4Richmond partnered with the Santa Fe Neighborhood Council and the Contra Costa Building and Construction Trades Council to refurbish the park. Giving back to the community has always been a part of what the Building Trades has been about, and since they have the skills, the tools and the willingness to help, it seemed like a natural fit.
Last August about two dozen tradesmen from the Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 342, the Electricians Local 302 and the Ironworkers Local 378 met to remove the old fence so the site could be prepared. They removed the old chain link fence so it could be taken to a salvage yard and chopped down a mountain of weeds.
Along the back side was a large tree that had been planted long after the fence was erected. The tree had grown around the fence and the horizontal fence posts so the post and the chain link were actually growing through the tree.
The City stepped in to grade the lot and resurface the area and in February volunteers from Local 342 returned to hang the new fence and add a vehicle and pedestrian gate for access.
Now that the resurfacing is completed, there is are basketball and futsal (a five person per team soccer variant) courts, as well as a play lot for the kids. In a side lot to the south, there is an isolated play lot for the little kiddies so they can enjoy the new park without being affected by the older kids and adults.
Aside from 4Richmond—who purchased the materials—Creative Fencing in Rodeo paid for one of their fence builders to work the weekend lending his expertise and critical physical assistance. Global Construction provided the manpower and equipment to seal the asphalt and Cresco provided a scissor lift at a greatly reduced cost. When the lift ran into mechanical difficulties, Bridge Storage and Art loaned the volunteers a forklift with manbasket to finish the job. Of even greater value to the effort, though, was Bridge’s offer to allow the workers to use their sanitary facilities.
Throughout the project, neighbors would drop by and offer important advice and commentary.
After nearly eleven months after the work was started, in the final week the playlot was assembled, the courts striped, the industrial grade benches were welded into place and the facility is now ready for the Grand Opening on Saturday July 18th.
There were nearly a thousand manhours volunteered to rehabilitate this park so Richmond could have yet one more reason to smile and show their pride.
Giving back to the community is something a lot of groups embrace. On the 18th and beyond, the community will be able to share in the hard work this wonderful addition to the Santa Fe neighborhood.
Quotes and photos from workers at Santa Fe Union Park:
"It’s just nice to be here to bring Richmond back to what it used to be."
"My father taught me that your community is only as strong as the people in it."
"We like to give back to the community that’s served us. We want to pay it forward."
"We get the opportunity to give back to where we live."
"When you say union it’s not just about the money—it’s about family, community and pride."
--James C. Austin, Jr.
"It’s good to go out and do things for the greater good. It keeps us in perspective so we remember how good we have it."