There are many stories of people who are afraid to go outside in the daytime, of youth who are mistaken for gang members and attacked. This is what our city has come to, and it’s been this way for as long as I can remember.
In order to change this, we need real investment from the city. Light posts need to be added in neighborhoods that are without them, parks need to be maintained, and pedestrians need sidewalks. These are the most basic elements that allow residents to feel safe in their neighborhoods. Without them, how can anyone feel safe?
The opportunity for recreation and community cohesiveness is powerful for public safety. By giving our children a place to stay out of trouble and by adding more eyes on the street, parks help keep communities safe and connected. Our organization, Fathers & Families of San Joaquin (FFSJ), has seen the comprehensive benefits parks provide and has become a champion for parks in Stockton and throughout California.
When I was a kid, I remember the centers at McNamara and Stephan Leonard parks being the heart and life of the community. The Mac was so beautiful. I swam in the pool, watched my mom play softball and spent my weekends there. I remember the Mac center being staffed by Parks and Recreation workers.
A Fresno FAX bus advertisement, commissioned by BHC Fresno, that depicts the difference in green spaces between the two parts of the city through public information, has been rejected by Mayor Ashley Swearengin as ‘political’ and in violation of city codes for bus ads. Below, We’Ced youth reporters reflect on the issue occurring in our neighboring city and question the validity of Mayor Swearengin’s decision.
In late 2014, the City of Merced received an $828,775 grant from the State of California’s Housing and Community Development Department to improve and renovate Stephen Leonard Park. The park, which occupies a square block deep in South Merced, has seen better days. The basketball court is riddled with cracks and the pool has been empty for years. Renovation plans include installing a skate park and replacing the pool with a splash pad, as well as adding security cameras.
We’Ced reporters spent a chilly Saturday afternoon talking to visitors at Stephen Leonard Park about the new plans, and their memories of the place.