By Mallory Darida
UNC Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE
Durham’s civic, government and neighborhood leaders are teaming up to create a new playground for the Albright Community.
Partners in the project include the City of Durham Department of Community Development, El Centro Hispano, TROSA, Southwest Durham Rotary Club, Habitat for Humanity of Durham and the city’s Neighborhood Improvement Services.
On Saturday, Aug. 21, more than 300 people in the community gathered at Albright Community Gardens in pre-celebration of a playground to be constructed later in the year. The theme of the event was, “The Spirit of Service Building Neighborhoods for Northeast Central Durham.”
Celebration involved bouncing fun houses, face painting, fire engines, food and a Takiri dance group from El Centro Hispano. Community members provided prizes during the event, including six bicycles and helmets donated by Lewis Days. “The Brothership Band” entertained the crowd with Hispanic, Motown, funk and soul music.
“It was a beautiful day,” Dorothy Kelly, president of the Albright Community Association, said. “All the people mingled and it was like one big family.”
Kelly explained that Albright Park started as a big pile of dirt until improvements began in the 1980s. Concern for the area began when the city coordinators approved a streetlight installation at an intersection near the park. Frequent accidents occurred in the front yard of a woman who lived at that intersection, causing fear for her safety.
The Albright Community Association went before the city council to request that the park’s ground be leveled. Albright’s community garden started shortly after.
Albright Park serves as a location for community events such as Easter egg hunts and cook-outs, Kelly said. The purpose of this area is to improve the lives of the people who live there.
The park still lacked a place for the children to play, so the Albright Community Association decided to approach KaBOOM! for help.
Earl Phillips, the city of Durham’s Assistant Director for Community Engagement, explained that KaBOOM! is a national non-profit organization that partners with community groups and leaders to provide playground equipment and a place for children to play. While KaBOOM! supplies the equipment, local organizations donate the additional costs and volunteers for the project.
The Southwest Durham Rotary Club offered $7,500 to cover the costs of the playground installment.
KaBOOM! has helped build several playgrounds in the metropolitan area. KaBOOM! partnered with Blue Cross Blue Shield to construct the most recent playground at Burch Avenue Park. Building began around six in the morning and volunteers completely assembled the equipment by mid-afternoon.
Miguel Rubiera, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity, described Albright community as “one of the few neighborhoods where the community association is becoming very active.” Their goal is to unite the two distinct types of people living in the area: Latinos and African Americans.
The Albright Community Association hopes for the construction of the playground to be completed by the end of the year.
“We see so many of our young people straying out in the street,” Kelly said. “We hope to make a better life for the children by keeping them busy. We don’t want their minds to wander to the wrong things.”