02 Mar Council Unanimously Votes to Honor Willie Mays and Juneteenth
Richmond received nearly $10 million from the state, which it will use to make the Iron Triangle greener and more pedestrian-friendly, among other things, as discussed at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. (Screenshot captured by Julia Métraux / Richmond Pulse)
By Julia Métraux
Richmond plans to rename two sites in honor of Juneteenth and Hall of Fame baseball player Willie Mays.
The City Council held public hearings and adopted resolutions to change the names of two places in Richmond at Tuesday’s meeting. Council member Melvin Willis was absent.
First, the City Council discussed renaming baseball diamond field no. 2 at Nicholl Park as Willie Mays Baseball Field. This motion was brought forward by council member-at-large Nathaniel Bates.
Mays, who is 90 years old, played most of his major league career for the San Francisco and New York Giants. His involvement with Richmond includes participating in March of Dimes charitable events and working with Little League teams.
“He’s done so much for people through his own personal philanthropy, with scholarships,” Joey Smith, the chair of Richmond’s Recreation and Parks Commission, said. “I know people whose sons have gone to college because of those scholarships.”
The parks commission also said at its Dec. 1 meeting that the renaming of the park would coincide with establishing Willie Mays Day, which would be May 6, Mays’ 91st birthday.
“The plan is to ferry Mr. Mays from San Francisco to Richmond and to have him escorted through a parade caravan to Nicholl Park, where the dedication will take place,” Bates said.
The council adopted the resolution to rename the park in Mays’ honor without any debate.
Second, the council and members of the public spoke about the possibility of renaming the South 37th Street Underpass the Juneteenth Freedom Underpass. Richmond’s parks commission also recommended that the City Council adopt this change at its Dec. 1 meeting.
A mural honoring Juneteenth, which celebrates the emancipation of Black slaves in the United States, is in the works at the South 37th Street Underpass. The mural will be completed by May 31, according to the Richmond Standard.
“The bottom of the mural has wording that honors Jerrold Hatchett, a local leader who has played a critical role in preserving and sustaining the Juneteenth festival in Richmond for over 15 years,” Stephanie Ny, the program manager in Richmond’s community services department, said.
Several members of the public also spoke during the public hearing session for this resolution about the significance of the location of this pass and mural.
“This has been a longstanding portion of the Juneteenth parade route to … Nicholl Park with the annual festival,” Joey Schlemmer, a retired Richmond Police Department captain, said about the underpass.
The council unanimously approved the resolution to rename the underpass to the Juneteenth Freedom Underpass. Council member Demnlus Johnson also spoke about his excitement for Juneteeenth this year.
“[This] upcoming Juneteenth, just wait on it,” Johnson said. “It’s gonna be amazing.”
Funding to Help Richmond Projects from Clean California Local Grant Projects
Richmond was awarded $9.99 million dollars from the state to help with projects to clean and revitalize the city.
“Fresh off the press, the city of Richmond received nearly $10 million in funding today from the Clean California Local Grant Projects,” interim city manager Shasa Curl said.
The Clean California Local Grant Projects’ mission includes reducing waste, restoring public spaces and advancing equities for underserved communities.
The first of two grants that the city received would go towards the Boorman Park Revitalization Project and the 7th Street Connection Project. The project at Boorman Park would change the park’s layout for safety and convenience. The project at 7th Street “consists of a sidewalk and bicycle facility gap closure and the transformation of an unpaved alley.”
The second grant will go toward making the Iron Triangle more accessible for pedestrians, adding more trees and plants to the area, and installing litter abatement facilities.
The next City Council meeting will be held March 15.