Everybody’s Park

Posted on May 9, 2009

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Ward 2 Councillor William Trahant and event organizer Wendy Joseph hold up $10,000 check from city to help restore Henry Avenue Park

Ward 2 Councillor William Trahant and event organizer Wendy Joseph hold up $10,000 check from city to help restore Henry Avenue Park.

Melissa and Jason Winchell, both teachers in the Lynn public school system, moved to Henry Ave. last summer. Frank and Doris Mello have lived in this neighborhood for 52 years. Along with youth from Straight Ahead Ministries, candidates for City Council and neighbors of all ages, they dedicated their Saturday morning to restoring Henry Avenue Park to a place where everyone can feel safe and play.

The main organizations behind the playground cleanup were the Henry Avenue Partnership for Youth (HAPPY), the Highlands Coalition and the Essex County Community Organization (ECCO). These groups successfully convinced the mayor to devote $10,000 of the Community Development budget to the restoration of Henry Park. A symbolic check was presented to Ward Councillor William Trahant and project organizer Wendy Joseph by Mayor Chip Clancy in a ceremony that also included a blessing by the Reverend Theresa Walker of the Cathedral of Faith in Lynn.

“Please protect the park so that users will feel safe,” the Reverend prayed. In his remarks, Mayor Clancy commended the public-private partnerships that made “this substantial investment during a difficult time.”

Izzy and Ray, artists and owners of Flava’z Ice Cream in downtown Lynn, created a 4 panel mural for the occasion and provided 4 blank panels for neighborhood children to decorate. The completed mural will be installed in Henry Ave. Park pending approval of the Parks Commission. In the meantime, the mural will be displayed at the Ford School organic garden.

The mural created for Henry Avenue Park and one of the blank panels being painted by a child

The mural created for Henry Avenue Park and one of the blank panels being painted by a child.

Street outreach worker Antonio Guitierrez of ECCO, another organizer of today’s cleanup, was also behind a cleanup at Strawberry Park. “Strawberry was more of a whim,” he said, describing how he now wants to develop a model for other organizations and concerned citizens to follow in undertaking restoration of city parks.

Citizen actions like this require the work of many individuals to coordinate myriad details from getting permits from the city to serve food to encouraging neighbors to help by going door to door. Why go to all the trouble? One of the volunteers, Adrian, perhaps put it best. “We live here. If we don’t do it, no one else will.”

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