Two days after receiving a major face-lift with help from hundreds of volunteers, John F. Kennedy Park gleamed on Monday morning.
The once aging and dilapidated 7-acre park at Cutting Boulevard and 41st Street is now far more colorful and useful after community residents, leaders, businesses, nonprofits and other groups banded together to transform the park in a single day on Saturday, which was also national Make A Difference Day.
The all-day event worked through some of the first phase projects for the park renovation, which was a partnership between the City of Richmond and The Trust for Public Land.
The park has been outfitted with brand new facilities benefiting all ages. Perhaps one of the coolest new additions is the outdoor gym:
If you’re not into gyms whether indoor or outdoor, perhaps a quarter-mile Fitness Loop is preferable. JFK park now has a fitness trail that includes a number of exercise stations. Along the way, inspirational quotes from Oprah, Cesar Chavez and others are painted on the ground.
Right next door to the above play structure, a larger children’s play area with a rubberized surface remains under construction. As you see below, City Manager Bill Lindsay was among those beginning to build it: The new park is indeed colorful. Community members of all ages were given paintbrushes to ensure this:
Perhaps the most impressive array of new colors in the park comes from the circular 3,000-square-foot mural that was designed with community input. The art project was led by Richmond Art Center teaching artist Fred Alvarado, who held eight community design workshops. The resulting image pays homage to Richmond’s history, particularly when the city boomed economically, and includes symbolism of rebirth, Alvarado said. Here’s the finished product:
Art can now be seen everywhere in the park. Even the garbage cans are gorgeous. Volunteers helped take existing garbage cans and turn them into mosaic masterpieces. Mosaic artist and teacher Daud Abdullah, who is known for spreading this brand of art citywide, helped guide the volunteers Saturday.
Community members who came down to volunteer were not left without perks. In support of the volunteer rebuild, the park on Saturday became the Richmond stop for the Super Bowl 50 tour presented by Chevron. The tour allowed community members to snap photos with all eight Super Bowl trophies won by the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders.
Community members also had the option of meeting and getting an autograph from football great Raymond Chester, the four-time Pro Bowler who was on the Raiders team that defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 27-10 in Super Bowl XV.
Along with the trophies, kids were welcome to play in a STEM Zone, where through athletics and other fun and active experiences lessons are taught in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The facility below featured touchscreens that offered educational tips on how football stars used STEM concepts to improve their game.
“What’s personal about this is that a majority of people here are part of this community,” said community advocate Naomi Williams (pictured below on the right). “It’s encouraging to see this many people here like this coming together.”
To be clear, the reconstruction of John F. Kennedy Park is not over. The map below shows Phase II projects that are set for the near future. For one, funds are being raised to re-do the basketball courts: