Photo by Justin Criado

NCFH executive director Ronell Guy (center, white hat) and Kevin McKnight (left of Guy) of Alcoa Foundation cut the ribbon after the completion of a children’s playground on 912 California Ave. Thursday, Oct. 16. 

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By Justin Criado
By Justin Criado
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By Justin Criado

Ronell Guy has wanted to build a playground in California-Kirkbride for nearly a decade.

The executive director of the Northside Coalition for Fair Housing (NCFH) finally saw her vision come to life Thursday when upwards of 250 volunteers completed a children’s playground on 912 California Ave.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Guy said. “The community needs this. You see everyone out here.”

The park will serve as a safe, fun space for children in the community. Many local youths helped out, landscaping the surrounding hillside or building large flower planters and picnic tables.

“It really is tying the community together,” NCFH resident service coordinator James Harrell said. “This is great.”

The Alcoa Foundation and KaBOOM! helped fund the project, and State Rep. Jake Wheatley, Jr. was there lending a hand.

“I was actually digging dirt and stuff,” Wheatley said before addressing the volunteers. “Thank you for all your hard work and dedication because without you we would not be here and have this beautiful opportunity for our children to have successful, safe spaces.”

The park features a play area complete with swings and jungle gym, picnic tables, a garden pergola, and a community announcement billboard.

“We built a playground for kids in the Northside in six hours and did it safely,” Alcoa chief sustainability officer and president of EHS Kevin McKnight said. “We really enjoyed working with our partners from the Northside and the community members that came out to join us in this effort. It was a fantastic project. We’d love to do other projects like this on the Northside.”

This is just the beginning, though, as Guy already has plans for playground events.

“We already got it planned,” Guy said of next year’s National Night Out event. “We’re going to have a celebration and build reunions. Next year at this same time we’ll be out here cooking hot dogs.”