JOHN MARK MCMILLAN - OCTOBER 23, 2014

JOHN MARK MCMILLAN - OCTOBER 23, 2014

In 2011, the City of Visalia recruited the Visalia Rescue Mission to revitalize the Park and the surrounding neighborhood. There has never been such a concerted effort to change the dynamic of this park, to attract blossoming businesses, and to provide a safe and comfortable environment for the whole community.

A NEW BEGINNING 

“A good park radiates value to the surrounding neighborhood in the same way the sun radiates heat; the closer you are, the more value the park should add.”

recorded april 2014

recorded april 2014

Over the past four months, it’s become painfully obvious the above quote from a recent study doesn’t pertain to Oval Park, which is more commonly referred to as “The Oval” – a nickname synonymous with every community evil under the sun. If you’re new to town and have just heard rumors, don’t worry – they’re only mostly true.

Fortunately, it’s also become clear that Visalia is not the only city in America facing a similar dilemma and approaching it with a similar strategy. In fact, the American Planning Association just released a 4-page brief entitled, “Using City Parks for Community Revitalization.” Our partnership with the City of Visalia is a great step in the right direction for two reasons:

1.     Park regulars who want help have a direct connection to the Rescue Mission. (Sadly, not everyone I meet who needs help actually want the help they need).

2.     We have a park with a 3,000-person capacity to host some very major events.

“Fixing what is wrong with the park is critical, but doing so will not restore the neighborhood. The two must happen together.”

As a longtime Visalian and recent resident of the Oval Park neighborhood (Willis to Sante Fe and Murray to Houston), it is very evident this neighborhood fits the now famous Broken Window Theory: “…[residents] stay apart from their fellows, moving with averted eyes, silent lips, and hurried steps.” To make this the exception rather than the rule, we have started a private, neighborhood network on Nextdoor.com. It’s the first step in connecting neighbors together, so we can collaborate together.

Saturday, november 15, 2014

Saturday, november 15, 2014

Needless to say, events in the park are a means to an end. During my research, I found an old advertisement for Oval Ice Cream Parlor with the slogan: “Let’s go up to the Oval.” That’s the end – a neighborhood with a good reputation; kids in the park and picnics under the trees. Let’s throw in some new businesses and rehabbed homes. And let’s include some changed lives and restored families. It all starts with a little hope and a willingness to help. Are you willing?

Needless to say, events in the park are a means to an end. During my research, I found an old advertisement for Oval Ice Cream Parlor with the slogan: “Let’s go up to the Oval.” That’s the end – a neighborhood with a good reputation; kids in the park and picnics under the trees. Let’s throw in some new businesses and rehabbed homes. And let’s include some changed lives and restored families. It all starts with a little hope and a willingness to help. Are you willing?