Neighborhood association building 'parklet' to fight blight

Neighborhood association building 'parklet' to fight blight
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

BATON ROUGE, LA - A fix-up challenge by the Mid-City Redevelopment Association sparked members of the Capital Heights Neighborhood Association to make major changes to a blighted area.

"It was dirty, it was overgrown," said Tyler Hicks, President of the Capital Heights Neighborhood Association. Hicks is referring to a concrete slab that sits just above Ward Creek between two homes on Capital Heights Avenue.

It was an empty lot that was forgotten about, until Hicks and several of his neighbors decided to band together with a grassroots project to liven it up.

"We hope that it's going to be a space that cleans up underused or underdeveloped areas," said Hicks.

The concept to beautify the eyesore was born about a year ago, but a $1,000 grant from the Mid-City Redevelopment Alliance allowed them to put their idea into motion. The alliance challenged neighborhood associations to stamp out empty spaces and rebuild community relations.

Members of the neighborhood association plan on doing that by creating a 30x30 foot "parklet," or mini park featuring benches, an art wall, and flower planter; made mostly of repurposed wood.

But the neighborhood association is pushing it a step further. Not only are they taking on a fixer-upper, they're hoping to change the way people in the community view one another, one nail at a time.

"Know your neighbors. Immediately once you know your neighbors, some of those peripheral things that buzz around you like crime, some of the not important issues of our lives are done away with," said Terry Singer with the Capital Heights Neighborhood Association.

By giving neighbors a place to "people watch," it will hopefully slow down traffic through the busy family friendly streets and encourage other neighborhood associations to pick a bad spot and fix it up.

Organizers said this is a community project and are looking for volunteers at the future work days on April 15, May 6, May 21, and Sat June 10.

For more information, view the Capital Heights Neighborhood Association's website here.