In its first meeting of the year Tuesday, Richmond City Council is set to consider renaming the Richmond Greenway bicycle and pedestrian trail after the late Lillie Mae Jones, a longtime resident who is credited with envisioning the transformation of the former Sante Fe Railroad right-of-way into a city park in the 1970s.
Jones passed away on Sept. 14 at age 85. Since her passing, Mayor Tom Butt has launched an effort to rename the pedestrian and bicycling trail after her. This community asset, according to the mayor, is the result of Jones’ “original vision and tireless advocacy.”
On Nov. 7, the Mayor’s Office presented the proposed naming designation to the Friends of the Richmond Greenway executive board, which voted unanimously in support.
“Naming the bicycle/pedestrian trail portion of the Richmond Greenway after Ms. Jones recognizes her essential advocacy role while leaving intact future naming opportunities for other features of the Greenway such as community gardens, play structures, picnic areas, etc.,” the agenda item states.
The council agenda item included a bit of Jones’ history in order to make the case for the renaming:
“Ms. Jones moved to Richmond in 1943 and remained a member of our community until she passed away on September 14, 2016. She originally envisioned the transformation of the former Santa Fe Railroad right of way into a city park in the 1970s. The Richmond Greenway that exists today is the result of her original vision and tireless advocacy for the development of this community asset. Ms. Jones visited the pathway nearly every day, and continued her environmental interests in the community by January 17, 2017, turning a vacant lot on Sixth Street in the Richmond Iron Triangle neighborhood into an urban farm oasis, complete with chickens, bees, rabbits, and gardens.
Ms. Jones participated on the Coronado Neighborhood Council and organized the Coronado Neighborhood Council Scholarship Program for several years. Additionally, she served on the Richmond Neighborhood Coordinating Council, the Richmond Private Industry Council, the John F. Kennedy University Board of Regents, the Richmond Library LEAP Program Advisory Board, the Brookside Hospital Community Advisory Committee, and the John Knox Affirmative Action Freeway Committee.
Ms. Jones received numerous awards and distinctions throughout her illustrious public service career, including recognitions from the City of Richmond, Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Alameda County Transit, and the Coronado Neighborhood Council.
Lillie Mae Jones has a legacy of activism, service, and community development that will last in Richmond forever. Ms. Jones was a champion for anything that would improve the quality of life in the Iron Triangle neighborhood in particular, including the creation of the Richmond Greenway. Her grassroots leadership has also made way for advances to housing, jobs, crime prevention, education and more, benefiting communities that have been historically disadvantaged.”
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