The community comes together to discuss the future of the Jackson Ward neighborhood
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) — The initial phase of the Jackson Ward Community Plan kicked off Thursday night as residents gathered for the first time to discuss what they want for the future of the neighborhood.
It comes after RRHA received a $450,000 planning grant from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The money is matched with funds from the City of Richmond and the RRHA to create a plan to reconnect Jackson Ward and Gilpin Court after being split by I-95.
“I think it’s a step in the right direction, I think the city is addressing issues that should have been addressed years and years ago,” said J. Maurice Hopkins, who was at the meeting.
Hopkins was one of twelve locals at Thursday night’s gathering ready to hear what the process of reconnecting with the neighborhood he grew up in will look like.
“I was one of the few of us left in the ’50s when they instituted the Richmond Petersburg Turnpike, which is I95,” Hopkins said.
According to a presentation given at the meeting, the planning process will take almost two years.
Along the way, various meetings will be held with the community of Jackson Ward and the residents of Gilpin Court to gather ideas on how to improve the neighborhood, the quality of life for those who live there and the housing.
A lot of work needs to be done if RRHA is to receive a second grant worth millions to put this plan into action.
“We’ll probably start working on an implementation towards the grant towards the end of the planning process so that we can hopefully be successful and get those really big dollars from HUD, so as it’s few dollars from HUD, we want the massive HUD dollars,” said Maritza Pechin, associate director of equitable development. “We can’t get this big implementation grant without first having a plan.”
This does not mean that no improvements will occur during the planning process.
Pechin said $200,000 for the planning project is set aside to create community action activities like creating murals or repairing playgrounds.
One Hopkins idea is to make improvements to the Calhoun Center located just across Gilpin Ct.
“Some things could be improved for that bit of money, but it would help a lot,” Hopkins said.
the next meeting will take place on June 16 at 6 p.m. at Gallery5.
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