|New nonprofit has
big plans to transform Richmond Greenway
Katherine Tam Contra Costa Times
Posted: 09/01/2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Groundwork Director Will Osuna talks about
the group on the Richmond Greenway
The Richmond Greenway, once a set of abandoned railroad tracks
slicing through the city, has come a long way in its new life
as a walking and biking trail. But it still has a ways to go
toward becoming a lively, popular destination.
Nancy Baer sees the path as a canvas worth investing in. She
envisions flowers concealing the chain-link fence that separates
the greenway from the adjacent BART tracks. She sees trees taking
root, seating areas and attractive entrances that beckon locals.
"It might begin to become more inviting," the Richmond resident
said. "More people on the greenway is what makes it safer."
Baer and others are launching a nonprofit trust to transform
the 3-mile greenway into a local draw, and to make better use
of other underused or abandoned properties.
Groundwork Richmond is just getting off the ground -- Executive
Director Will Osuna starts Wednesday, and the group is planning
a website -- but it is already dreaming big. Ideas for the greenway
include more urban gardens, kiosks and an amphitheater.
"(We want to) make it prettier, nicer "... add little areas
where people can congregate, some amenities for children, so
people can enjoy something in their own back yard," Osuna said.
The greenway will be a starting point. Groundwork wants to fix
other blighted areas by planting trees, improving parks and restoring
creeks. They want to help plan Miraflores, an affordable and
market-rate housing development on 14-acre brownfields where
prewar Japanese-American flower nurseries once flourished.
Groundwork will collaborate with residents and local groups,
and train youth, Baer said. They've already connected with locals
such as Iyalode Kinney, who builds community gardens in the Iron
Triangle and North Richmond, and the social services nonprofit
The Richmond trust is one of 19 nationwide under the Groundwork
USA umbrella. It is the first in the Bay Area and the second
in California; the other is in San Diego. The trusts typically
operate in places with environmental problems and poor communities
peppered with brownfields.
The National Park Service supplies seed money in the early years
until the trusts can stand on their own financially. Groundwork
Richmond will have $105,000 to work with this year, including
$25,000 from the city. The group has applied for three grants
and is waiting to see if they will receive any funds.
Annual goals will be incorporated into an agreement with the
city and National Park Service, Baer said.
There will be hurdles. Weeds grow voraciously along the greenway.
Trees planted in February have not survived. Thieves steal copper
wires from light poles.
Board members see the challenges as significant but not insurmountable.
"We'll begin to see small changes in a year, but the idea is
to build incrementally," Baer said. "It'll take a while for Groundwork
to reach its full strength, but you'll see more and more each
Katherine Tam covers Richmond. Follow her at Twitter.com/katherinetam.