Oct 12, 2015
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A grassroots effort to make Davis Park in San Pablo safer and more attractive to local residents has come a long way.

Almost exactly a year ago, we reported how neighbors of the park at 1661 Folsom Ave. had complained about an increase in muggings, including the violent robbery of an ice cream salesman.

Since then, the First 5 Contra Costa West County Regional Group, an assembling of community members and advocates aiming to improve neighborhoods for the benefit of children, has worked to ensure a better future for the park by convincing City Council to allocate $435,000 for specific enhancements.

Among the improvements, police surveillance cameras are currently being installed in the park and are expected to be fully operational in summer of next year, according to a report by city staff last month. The park is also being outfitted with new water fountains, which are expected to be finished this fall, along with new lighting, picnic tables, BBQ grills and waste and recycling receptacles, all of which are expected to be completed in spring 2016.

The park’s existing bathroom is currently receiving about $45,000 in upgrades. City Council has also approved funding for the construction of a whole new bathroom on the other side of the park.

All of the improvements are meant to make Davis Park a vibrant space that attracts families and scares off criminal activity.

“Bringing more people to the park helps with public safety,” San Pablo Mayor Kathy Chao Rothberg said. “The key is the eyes; having residents patrolling through self-patrol.”

The focus on Davis Park began after First 5 Contra Costa, via three regional groups consisting of community members, sponsored a study of 75 parks in local jurisdictions. The nonprofit wanted to identify parks in need of rehabilitation and to help local residents advocate for them.

“Davis Park was identified as needing the most dramatic improvement,” First 5 Contra Costa spokesperson Rhea Elina Laughlin said.

She called the successful efforts to rehabilitate the park a “tremendous resident-led process.”

But the work isn’t done.

Now that park improvements are underway, the First 5 Contra Costa West County Regional Group is working to partner neighbors with local police for the purpose of ensuring safety at Davis Park.

On Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., neighbors are invited to a public safety forum at the park. Residents will learn more about the latest crime statistics in the area, meet their police beat officers and discuss crime prevention, organizers said.

“Residents living near Davis Park are concerned with crime, vandalism, and unsafe conditions, all of which prevent local families from using this park,” the nonprofit said in a statement. “This grassroots group of parents aims to change that by improving one West County park at a time.”


About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.