By Mike Kinney
The community is invited to join a community walk in North Richmond on Monday that aims to raise awareness about the need for traffic safety measures in the neighborhood, particularly as school children head off to summer school.
A group that includes representatives of local neighborhood councils, city and county agencies, including law enforcement and fire agencies, elected officials, schools and nonprofits plans to meet at Shields-Reid Park, 1410 Kelsey St., at 11:30 a.m.
A car patrol will join the pedestrian caravan as they walk to Verde Elementary, where they will retrieve the children from summer school at noon and walk them back to Shields-Reid Community Center for summer camp for the first week of summer school.
This event aims to shine a light on the need for more traffic safety measures such as speed bumps and crosswalks with safety lights so that summer school children have a safe walking route between Verde Elementary School and summer camp at Shields-Reid Community Center, according to Marena Brown, one of the event organizers who works for the Contra Costa Youth Service Bureau in Richmond and is president of the North Richmond Neighborhood Council. Arto Rinteleea, president of the Fairmede-Hilltop Neighborhood Council, also helped organize the event.
“We need speed bumps on Chesley Ave. and crosswalks with a crossing signal on Chesley, Giaramita and Market Street for safer intersections leading to Verde school,” Brown said. “We want our drivers to use extra caution and they need to see and know when children are crossing in a crosswalk. And our children need to feel safe and this can only help improve their learning environment.”
The North Richmond Walking School Bus has been in existence for years and the City of Richmond Parks & Recreation staff continued to provide after-school pickups before the COVID-19 pandemic, Brown said.
Recently, the North Richmond community was rocked by a fatal shooting that claimed the life of a beloved local baseball coach, Lamar Williams. In the wake of the spike in gun violence in both North Richmond and the Hilltop community, presidents of the Shields-Reid and Fairmede/ Hilltop neighborhood councils decided to “come together to keep our children safe during the first week of WCCUSD Summer School,” Brown said.
“After the fatal death of North Richmond Baseball Coach Lamar Williams, fondly known as ‘T-Bone,’ the best way in assisting staff and our children was to coordinate a community wide Walking School Bus,” Brown said.
The event is being held in coordination with Mayor Tom Butt’s office; Robert Rogers, coordinator for Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia’s Office; Luz Gomez manager of Building Healthy Communities; Contra Costa Public Health; Davis Chapel CME Church; NAACP; WCCUSD School Board; Richmond Police Department; Contra Costa County Sheriff and Fire Departments; Community Housing Development Corporation; Bay Area Peace Keepers; Contra Costa Youth Service Board of Directors; One Accord; Richmond Neighborhood Coordinating Council and City of Richmond Communities Services.