As many of you are aware, each September, on the Sunday following the Labor Day weekend, Central has partnered with Bethlehem Lutheran Church to host a Block Party for our neighbors. This September, we will once again be hosting with Bethlehem, but some exciting developments have occurred that we want to share with you. These changes will make the Block Party a more effective way to serve our neighbors, and will expand the scope of the party to engage the major changes coming to the Midway due to the construction work on the new soccer stadium.
A few months ago, the Union Park District Council (UPDC), the council for the local area in which Central sits, contacted Central and Bethlehem to explore the idea of partnering together to host the Block Party this year. UPDC (you can learn more about UPDC here: http://www.unionparkdc.org) is concerned with the impact of the Stadium on our local neighborhood, and especially on pedestrian safety during the time of construction and beyond. As a council, they have the ability apply for a grant from Blue Cross/Blue Shield to help fund a community event to raise awareness of pedestrian safety issues. Their idea, which both Pastor Joy from Bethlehem and I were excited about, was to combine the purpose of the UPDC grant proposal and our neighborhood block party. So, we agreed to support UPDC’s grant application and partner together if the grant was successful, which it was! They received a grant of $5,000!
As we have been developing the plan together for the Block Party, we have made two decisions: 1) To expand the scope of the party to be larger, encompass more space, and include more events and activities and 2) to change the day of the party from the Sunday of the Kick Off weekend to the Saturday. As of now, our plan is to hold the party on Saturday, September 9th, from 1-5pm (dependent on securing city permits to close streets on that day). Please mark your calendars for this day, and if anything changes, we will let you know.
In terms of the plan for the day: UPDC is going to transform Shields Street from the intersection at Roy to the alley that runs behind Central into a model pedestrian street, staged with green space, benches, trees, etc., to give a vision for what the streets around the stadium could be if they are done with neighbors and pedestrians in mind. Then, on Roy Street, from Shields to the Spruce Tree Tower, there will be games, activities, and live music. In many ways, this will have the feel of a street fair in which the local area is invited for food, fun, fellowship, and also to learn about possibilities for pedestrian safety.
Throughout this summer, we will communicate to you more details as the plans unfold. For now, be sure to mark your calendars for Saturday, September 9th, from 1-5pm to be a part of this exciting event!