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Codman Square/Four Corners group looks to turn around neighborhood

Posted by Patrick Rosso  July 25, 2012 04:51 PM

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A group of committed residents, teens, and stakeholders met Tuesday night at the Second Church of Dorchester.

Called Millennium 10, the group was formed more than a year-and-a-half ago and is overseen by the Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation and is funded by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, through its Resilient Communities/Resilient Families grant.

The grass-roots group, which has brought together almost every major player in the Codman Square/Four Corners neighborhood, from residents to churches, nonprofits to local businesses, is looking to stimulate the community and come up with a 10-year plan for the area.

The group wants to create a community contract to guide development, increase safety, and give residents a template for them to take back their neighborhood. This is the third time in the past 35 that such a plan has been developed.

“We want to look at all of the pieces and tie it all together,” said Jenna Tourje, the group’s lead organizer. “We want to make sure people can buy into this and we want to make it a community of choice and a place of promise.”

More than 100 members packed the hall Tuesday, snacking on chips and cookies, talking about the latest neighborhood gossip and the visions they have for their community.

The group recently finished its survey process, in which members analyzed over 690 surveys and determined five areas residents would like to concentrate on including; youth, communication, safety, physical environment, and economic development.

With focus areas set, the group is now hopes to determine how to achieve those goals and communicate them to the greater community, eventually creating a contract by September.

Members broke up in smaller groups Tuesday, to discuss those visions and settle on some ways to achieve them.

“I think of a community as somewhere were I’m walking down the street and I know people, and I greet people. A place where people know each other and look out for each other,” said Gail Latimore, the executive director of the Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation, during the communications working group session.

As residents discussed their visions some argued and debated some of the points, but in the end many settled on the one goal making Codman Square and the Four Corners Neighborhood a destination, not just a neighborhood that occasionally makes it into the news when someone is killed.

“One problem our neighborhood faces is that no one has respect for each other,” said Lonnie Nettles, 69, and area resident, during the safety working group. “The mothers don’t respect the kids and the kids don’t respect each other and it’s a disgrace.”

Others said safety is what kept them in their cars, making the neighborhood undesirable to walk.

“Stop & Shop may be close to my house, but I don’t walk there because it’s not safe,” said Alveta Haynes, 57, and area resident and community organizer, during the safety working group. “Safety is really about traveling, whether it be driving or walking.”

A variety of topics were discussed Tuesday night, shedding a light on the concerns and dreams of the residents, whether it be safer streets, more youth jobs, or a better informed community.

“I feel like the tide is changing,” said Tourje. “People are looking towards a better future than the one they have and people really want to work for that.”

Tuesday’s meeting was the second working meeting the group had since the creation of the working groups. There are two more sessions before the contract will be created and the group is constantly searching for more members and more voices.

The next meeting will be held Aug. 21 at the Second Church of Dorchester, from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Email Patrick D. Rosso, Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

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