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Green Street Park Ribbon Cutting

October 2, 1:30 PM

Free

WATERVILLE, Maine— Friends of Green Street Park is hosting a ribbon-cutting on Friday. The Ribbon-cutting will showcase the newly built children’s theater stage as well as the kick-off of their capital campaign to complete a series of fitness stations around the park. We ask that guests adhere to social distancing guidelines, including wearing a mask during the event.

In October of 2018, five South End Neighborhood Association (SENA) members were sponsored by KVCAP to go to a NeighborWorks leadership training in Houston, TX, at the conclusion of which SENA would be eligible for a NeighborWorks grant to be used for community revitalization.

NeighborWorks America is a congressionally chartered nonprofit that focuses on community development. They provide training and federally-funded grants to neighborhoods all across the United States. KVCAP has been involved with NeighborWorks before, but 2018 was the first year that they extended an opportunity to SENA for community development.

SENA was established 20 years ago by a group of like-minded neighbors who wanted to energize and revitalize the historic South End neighborhood in Waterville. The South End faces socio-economic challenges unlike anywhere else in the city and the neighborhood struggles against better-situated neighborhoods to find funds from a financially-strapped city. SENA has developed community programs, including the annual South End National Night Out Festival, held the first Tuesday in August, which brings people from all over the city and neighboring towns to come enjoy and celebrate the South End. Some of their other programs include an annual bike swap and repair, semi-annual neighborhood cleanups, and various seasonally-themed festivals and events.

While in Houston in 2018, as part of the NeighborWorks training, members of SENA and Friends of Green Street Park developed a plan for the revitalization of a large park at the top of the South End. It was important that the group develop something community-driven that would result in a "capstone" for the full revitalization of the park.

In April of 2019, we were awarded a $4000 grant for that project proposal.

Over the course of the summer, the group held several meetings with key stakeholders, including City officials and other local community leaders. Workshops were also held with abutters and area residents and took polls to see what the neighborhood felt was the biggest need. Eventually, we settled on four distinct categories: Signage for the park, a BornLearning trail, art in the park, and a children's theater stage.

Utilizing connections throughout the community, Friends of Green Street Parks was able to secure signage for the park from the city and a BornLearning trail from the United Way as a way to increase community engagement in the project.

The group decided to showcase two of the residents’ desires into one. The funds that were received through the NeighborWorks grant was used to build a children's theater stage, the walls of which are made up of murals from a local community artist, and a smaller, collaborative mural from local children. The design of the stage and most of the construction was completed by Ralph Merrow, a decades-long homeowner in the South End and one of the founding members of SENA. As a surprise and a tribute to him and his work to improve the community, we are naming the stage the Ralph M. Merrow Children's Stage, which will be revealed at the ribbon-cutting.

The Houston trip and the resulting grant have helped spawn support for the revitalization of the park. Green Street park has attracted a donor who was impressed with the work on the stage and the community engagement and has offered $5k in 1:1 matching funds to complete the purchase of seven fitness stations for the park, with an additional 2:1 matching funds for a second $5K, if the first goal is met. This would bring $25K into the park, grown from a seed of $4K in federal funds.

Details

Date:
October 2
Time:
1:30 PM
Cost:
Free

Organizer

Rien Finch
Email:
rien.finch@gmail.com

Venue

Green Street Park
Green Street
Waterville, ME
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