It was the Capitol View neighbors’ turn to start brainstorming ideas for their Strong Neighborhoods Initiative (SNI) grant Thursday.
They are one of two neighborhoods that have been designated recipients of federal Housing and Urban Development money along with City of Oklahoma City staff efforts to help revitalize their neighborhood.
The grant will provide seed money for the revitalization of streets, sidewalks, streetscapes as well as parks and community services as developed in a process that involves the neighbors themselves.
Capitol View is just to the north and east of the Oklahoma Capitol Complex.
The focus area for the Capitol View SNI is bounded by N. Lincoln Boulevard, N.E. 36th Street, N. Kelley Avenue and N.E. 23rd Street.
The Capital View Neighborhood Association has been active for several years. Its relative strength was one of the selling points that caused the city to chose their neighborhood for revitalization.
This years-long process started in earnest Thursday when Shannon Entz, senior planner for Oklahoma City led a careful, slow-paced brainstorming session where the participants had time to think and interact as they built a list of needs for the neighborhood.
Many of the members of the association have been living in the area most of their lives and had to watch as a profound lack of investment allowed the city around them to crumble.
And so given an opportunity to actually think of what was needed to bring new life to the neighborhood came slowly at first, but then gained momentum as the night went on producing big lists of needs.
Some of the human services needs residents expressed for the area are:
• Adult education programs
• Job training
• Mobile meals and technology training for seniors
• Daycare centers and preschool
• After-school tutoring for children
• After-school recreations programs for children
• Community center
• Youth summer sports programs
• Life skills training
• Homeless shelters and services
• Food pantry
Business and retail needs the group identified were:
• Hardware store
• Grocery store
• Healthy food restaurants
• Small business training
• Facade improvement of storefronts
Housing needs in the aging neighborhood are:
• Address shortage of quality housing
• Heat and air
• Housing rehab and maintenance
• Tree removal/new trees
• Driveway and porch repair
Free Press talked with a few of the participants when the meeting ended.
Pat Wyatt said the meeting was “nice and informative.”
Her friend, Jackie Lane also through it was “informative” and added that she was “hopeful and prayerful” about the work to be done.
“This meeting was very engaged, informative and allowed us to express our needs,” said Nila Blaylock. “I’m ready to see the change in 30,40 and 50 years.”
We talked to Pastor Krizzo Meadows of Christ Temple Community Church where the meeting was held.
“This meeting was done excellently,” said Pastor Krizzo. “Once we get a greater partnership with the city things will begin to happen.”
He said he also believes that once people actually see things happening, there will be even more people join the process.
The initiative is made possible by a $1.5 million Community Development Block Grant program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD.
The City of Oklahoma City planning department does the work of initiating and processing input from neighbors and then developing a plan to present to HUD and the City Council.
According to city planning staff, once the process of getting input for first-year projects in the two neighborhoods is completed, the 2018-19 HUD Consolidation Action Plan will be presented to the City Council for consideration in the spring.
Project work should begin in the summer.
Classen Ten Penn and Classen’s North Highland Parked were two neighborhoods previously chosen for revitalization.
The investment from HUD and the city spurred private investment in multiples of the original seed money in those neighborhoods.
Free Press covered the acceptance of the two new neighborhoods into SNI in December:
With that as proof of just how effective the program can be, the two newest neighborhoods’ residents are excited about the focus of the city planning Department’s efforts.
The Capitol Hill area targeted includes the old, original Capitol Hill shopping area along SW 25th Street between Walker and Robinson. It also includes the parts of SW 29th Street with the heaviest retail development to date.