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The original item was published from 5/9/2023 2:05:00 PM to 11/10/2023 12:00:03 AM.

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Posted on: May 9, 2023

[ARCHIVED] No neighborhood left behind: Agencies revitalizing Queen City are stronger together

People help to apply a new coat of beige paint to a home. One person on ladder, one with a brush

PHOTO #1: Volunteers paint the outside of a home during the March 4 Keep Victoria Beautiful cleanup in Queen City. The maintenance project was part of the Brush Up program, a partnership between Keep Victoria Beautiful and Golden Crescent Habitat for Humanity.

PHOTO #2: The City of Victoria is in the process of sealing the streets in the Queen City neighborhood. As seen here, the streets have already been covered with a top layer of asphalt; next, they will be sealed with Onyx seal coating, resulting in a smooth, black surface. Sealing is a form of low-cost preventative maintenance that helps to prevent more costly repairs in the future.

A roadway is coated in dark, rough gravel in front of a church.Community events and initiatives are springing up in Queen City thanks to collaboration between local government organizations, nonprofits and community leaders working to improve the lives of residents.

“The revitalization process is not just a City effort; it takes all of us working together: the government, nonprofits, residents and schools,” said Assistant City Manager Mike Etienne. “We approached this project with the mindset that it takes a village to restore a neighborhood, and that spirit of collaboration has helped us to achieve much more than we could individually.”

At the Queen City revitalization group’s most recent meeting at Christ’s Kitchen, City of Victoria Special Projects Manager Keisha Smith encouraged attendees to continue reaching out to other organizations that could help with the effort.

“We have to ask ourselves, ‘Who needs to be part of the conversation?’” Smith said.

Picking up trash and a lot more

People in orange and yellow work vests stand at an outdoor table with a Victoria College tableclothPHOTO #3: Community organizations such as Victoria College provided information and resources during the March 4 Keep Victoria Beautiful cleanup in Queen City.

The recent Keep Victoria Beautiful cleanup in Queen City was more of a “resource fair” thanks to the many organizations who pitched in, said Christy Youker, assistant director of the City of Victoria Environmental Services and executive director of KVB.

As volunteers picked up trash, government and nonprofit organizations set up booths in Queen City Park to inform residents about resources for housing, health, education and other needs.

In addition, the Victoria Police Department hosted a bike rodeo, teaching local kids about bike safety and giving away six bikes, and the Victoria Fire Department installed 29 smoke alarms and gave out three flu shots.

KVB also partnered with Golden Crescent Habitat for Humanity to provide exterior maintenance at one home as part of the Brush Up program.

Youker reminded the revitalization group that if any residents would like to host smaller-scale cleanups at any time of the year, Keep Victoria Beautiful will provide them with equipment at no cost.

View more photos from the Queen City neighborhood cleanup

‘They want the park back’

Children stand on a paved surface in a park doing a performance for seated children.PHOTO #4: Crain Elementary School students perform a skit inspired by the book “Un camaleón y el color de su corazón” April 14 in Will Rogers Park.

Christ’s Kitchen Executive Director Trish Hastings noted another benefit of the resource fair: As residents gathered in Queen City Park, meeting with other community members and letting their kids ride bikes, the area “felt like a park again”—a big accomplishment for a small neighborhood park that’s seen as the face of Queen City’s drug problem.

As the revitalization group discusses long-term solutions for Queen City Park, community organizations continue to partner for events at nearby Will Rogers Park.

On April 14, Crain Elementary School hosted a family event at Will Rogers Park centered on the children’s book “Un camaleón y el color de su corazón” (“A Chameleon and the Color of its Heart”), written by Crain Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Marta Orden.

The City of Victoria Parks & Recreation, the Victoria Public Library, the Victoria Fire Department, the Victoria Police Department, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Victoria College and Mid-Coast Family Services provided resources and activities during the event.

Hastings said residents would like to see Queen City Park become a similar safe community space. The Victoria Police Department continues to investigate drug dealing in the park.

Residents “want the park back,” Hastings said.

View more photos from the family event hosted by Crain Elementary School

What’s happening at Christ’s Kitchen?

People sit at foldout tables in a large indoor dining area and watch Elf on a wall projector.PHOTO #5: Queen City residents watch the movie “Elf” on Dec. 29, 2022, at Christ’s Kitchen.

Christ’s Kitchen has always been an inviting place where Queen City residents can come for a hot meal and fellowship, but new partnerships are bringing residents to the nonprofit for mental wellness, movies and even haircuts.

Gulf Bend Center is serving 8-15 residents per week through its support group that meets at 1:30 p.m. Thursdays at Christ’s Kitchen. Chief of Clinical Services Lane Johnson described the meetings as fostering “mental wellness”: that is, meeting residents’ mental health needs whether or not they have any mental illnesses.

King of Kings Cuts has also begun providing haircuts on the second Wednesday of each month at Christ’s Kitchen. The service is free, although donations are accepted.

The revitalization group continues to look for ways to use this familiar meeting space to bring resources to Queen City. Recent events include two movie nights hosted by Parks & Recreation, with local vendor Q.I.C.K. Snacks providing refreshments, and a women’s self-defense class provided by the Victoria Police Department.

Up next: Silver City

A PowerPoint slide. Text says revitalization plan is equity focused, targeting worst neighborhoodsPHOTO #6: This slide from a Dec. 20 City Council presentation by Assistant City Manager Mike Etienne shows the neighborhoods that were chosen for targeted revitalization.

As the Queen City revitalization nears its first anniversary, the City and its partners are setting their sights on a similar targeted effort in the Silver City neighborhood.

Although the Silver City revitalization has not yet formally started, some positive changes are already planned for the neighborhood thanks to local organizations. At its most recent meeting, the Victoria Housing Finance Corporation heard an update about Golden Crescent Habitat for Humanity’s plan to build six homes in Silver City. The VHFC agreed to help fund the installation of water and sewer services at four of the six lots.

The VHFC is also supporting developer The NRP Group in the construction of a new workforce apartment complex in Silver City. The project was financed in part through VHFC bonds, which must be repaid by the developer.

Stay connected

To stay up to date on City of Victoria programs, visit www.victoriatx.gov/news and subscribe to our email newsletter, The City View. To be notified of upcoming Keep Victoria Beautiful cleanups, join our volunteer list.

Sam Hankins is the communications specialist for the City of Victoria.

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