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residents at nevin park

Iron Triangle picnic at Nevin Park to draw big crowd Saturday

on July 14, 2011

In the late 1980s, Nevin Park and the neighborhood surrounding it looked much different.

“Things were real bad out here,” said Otheree Christian, president of the Iron Triangle Neighborhood Association. “Drugs, prostitution, violence, it was all right there in your face.”

Not anymore.

The 18th Annual Iron Triangle Community Picnic is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, and organizers hope that it continues a trend that in recent years has seen growing crowds at the picnic and renewed faith in community.

With major city investments in recent years into the park and a new community center, and reduced crime in the surrounding neighborhood, the “Iron Triangle” has shed much of the infamy that used to be associated with its name, said Christian, the community picnic’s chief organizer since 2006.

“Right now, I think more people feel more safe and comfortable here at the park than any time since I’ve been involved with the neighborhood association,” Christian said. “We are moving in a good direction.”

This year’s event will feature food, entertainment, games and other activities. Early arrivals will be treated to free food and T-shirts. Some of the activities will include a bike rodeo, a three-on-three basketball tournament, bounce houses, pony and mini-train rides, vendors and information booths and music.

The growing turnout and support for the annual event—Christian said the council has sponsorships from more than a half-dozen local businesses and expects about 1,000 people to show—coincides with the investment in the park and the growth of the neighborhood council. The neighborhood council, like many for other neighborhoods throughout the city, has grown both as a voice in civic affairs in recent years.

Nevin Park underwent a $3.4 million renovation in 2008, which transformed it from an unkempt and foreboding patch of public space to a well-manicured, fenced park with a sparkling community center. In March, the park’s community center hosted a grand re-opening after about 50 volunteers spent three months sprucing up the center with fresh paint and a thorough cleaning of the classrooms inside.

Meanwhile, Christian’s role as a community leader has grown. Raised in the neighborhood, he left in 1990 to attend Howard University in Washington D.C. After earning a bachelors degree, he lived in Texas for several years and studied ministry while working in the juvenile probation system.

Christian, now 43, came home in 2004 determined to be a leader in his neighborhood’s revival. “We have really benefited from the community picnic, because it’s not just about having a great day, but about bringing people together who can make change,” Christian said. “We have a new park that brings people together and instills pride, and we are building a commitment to keep our park and our community clean and healthy.”

  • Saturday, July 16
  • 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Free food and T-shirts to those who arrive early
  • For further details, call 510-236-5812 or 510-860-3389.

|The community picnic at Nevin Park|
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