Atchison Park to be renamed ‘Richard J. Boyd Park’

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Atchison Park likely to be renamed 'Richard J. Boyd Park'
Richard J. Boyd Park (formerly known as Atchison)

Atchison Park is set to be renamed Richard J. Boyd Park, as neighborhood residents look to honor the community activist and organizer who died last year.

The park renaming proposal was approved at Tuesday night’s Richmond City Council meeting, with Councilmember Jael Myrick saying he knew Boyd well and that he was an “amazing person and an amazing spirit.”

Park signage will be updated to reflect the change at the 4.3 acre park located at Bissell and Curry avenues in Richmond.

Boyd lived in that neighborhood starting in 2006 and became highly active in the community, serving on the Atchison Village Mutual Home Corporation (ACMHC) Board of Supervisors.

“Like the park, Richmond was a vehicle for bringing ACMHC into closer contact with neighboring residents as well as the broader community, helping to bridge lingering remnants of Atchison Village’s history of segregation,” according to an Ad-Hoc Committee that supported the park renaming.

During his 12 years in Richmond, Boyd was an organizer with Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization (CCISCO), working long hours for a small stipend, and also worked with the RYSE Center, Urban Tilth, Ceasefire, Office of Neighborhood Safety and other groups.

Officials from the RYSE Center say Boyd and his wife Denise Abersold “took particular interest in helping and mentoring young people in need of support,” according to the committee.

The residents of Atchison Village led the petition to rename the park, with 54 providing written support. At its meeting on Oct. 3, the Recreation and Parks Commission unanimously approved the name change. Proponents say renaming the park after Boyd would be a vast improvement from the current name, which they say references the railroad company and town in Kansas named after the late pro-slavery senator David Rice Atchison. The Atchison Village neighborhood, built by the federal government to house wartime workers around 1940, was believed to have received its name for its proximity to the depot for the Atchison, Topeka and Sante Fe railroad lines.

Both the current and former Richmond police chiefs came forward in support of renaming the park after Boyd. In a social media post, current Chief Allwyn Brown recalled getting to know Boyd in 2008 as a newly promoted police captain in the Central District.

“He was a leader on really engaging neighbors, police and others to address the most problematic issues that we were facing,” Brown said.

Boyd was credited with playing a role in improving conditions and public safety in the Iron Triangle neighborhood.

Former Police Chief Chris Magnus, now chief of the Tuscon Police Department, called Boyd “always friendly, engaged, and most of all — kind.” He was a “doer, a facilitator, and a creative strategist,” Magnus wrote.

“That smile, his warm embrace, those kind words at critical times were irresistible,” Magnus added. “Richard kept us focused on our goals, and he reminded us what we were trying to accomplish.”