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Community Group Aims To Make Over San Diego’s Lincoln Park Intersection

The intersection of Euclid and Imperial avenues is in for a makeover.

A group of community volunteers is planning to spend the next month fixing up the corner in San Diego's Lincoln Park neighborhood.

"We've chosen this area because it's one of the main corridors in our community and it has a past history that all of us in the community are working hard to reverse," said Barry Pollard, a community organizer and southeastern San Diego resident. He runs the neighborhood improvement organization Urban Collaborative Project, which also hosts food markets at the intersection.

Photo by Claire Trageser

The Valenica Park Market storefront at the intersection of Euclid and Imperial avenues in San Diego, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015.

Photo credit: Urban Collaborative Project

Design plans for a remade storefront for the Valencia Park Market at the intersection of Euclid and Imperial avenues in San Diego.

The area has a history of gang violence and was in the past labeled by media as the "four corners of death" because of its high rate of homicides. While that reputation no longer exists, Pollard said the area still needs sprucing up.

So he and other volunteers are planning an event called "Better Block" that will transform the space with planters, remade storefronts and benches to create a community gathering space.

"Better Blocks is a tool that's used throughout the United States to put some focus on underserved areas that need development and need it quickly," Pollard said. "Improving this public space is going to go a long way to transitioning the energy of this corner."

The group is getting private funding from businesses including Home Depot to make its improvements.

Better Block Work Days

9 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 12

Saturday, Sept. 26

Saturday, Oct. 3

Keryna Johnson, a food environment specialist with the San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency, said the county is also supporting the project because it promotes healthy communities, "by showing this corner and this area could become a community gathering space where folks will feel safe to leave their houses and walk over and spend some time outside in their neighborhood, get to know their neighbors, maybe create some social cohesion."

Monique López, one of the volunteers involved in the project, said the makeover will use the talents of nearby residents, including artists and woodworkers.

"We have a very unique opportunity with Better Block to show the assets the community has, but also to be able to express in real time the potential beauty that's in this place as well," she said. "I hope that it shows the city as well that this community wants something better, and they have developed a plan for how to make this place better."

Pollard said not all of the planning has gone smoothly. The group is struggling to get permits for the planters, because they involve small amounts of water for drought tolerant plants. It also wanted to add artwork to the four crosswalks at the intersection, but was told permits would cost $1,600 for each crosswalk.

Pollard said Mayor Kevin Faulconer and City Councilwoman Myrtle Cole have been cooperative, "however, it seems like their hands are even tied." He hopes to get the issues resolved before the space's opening on Saturday, Oct. 17.

Better Block will host a community workday on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., as well as two more on Saturday, Sept. 26 and Saturday, Oct. 3.

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