City hosts block party to help improve community

5 months 3 weeks 1 day ago Wednesday, August 29 2018 Aug 29, 2018 Wednesday, August 29, 2018 3:00:00 AM CDT August 29, 2018 in News
By: Celine Pence, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA - A neighborhood block party in Auburn Hills Park set for Wednesday aims to bring residents in the area together. 

The Columbia City Council and the City Manager's Office thought of the block party and tasked Columbia Parks and Recreation with putting it together.

"This is part of a larger-picture event," said Mike Griggs, director of Columbia Parks and Recreation. "It really helps build a community into a really close-knit neighborhood."

The city has three strategic planned neighborhoods where it wants to lessen crime and bring residents together: Douglass Park, Indian Hills Park and Auburn Hills Park. Parks and Recreation already had a block party at Douglass Park this year, and will have one at Indian Hills Park in October. Griggs said the city picked these neighborhoods based on the diverse population within each area.

This is the first time Auburn Hills Park will see this type of event.

"We're going to have a job fair. We're inviting other community organizations to come and show what they can help do," Griggs said. "It's a little more of an all-encompassing party other than just have your kids come down to the park for a fun day. It'll be interesting how it's perceived at each of these three neighborhoods."

The goal of the job fair is to help individuals in Auburn Hills Park find jobs that best fit their skills, schedules and that are close to where they live.

"Economics is a factor in people's ability to thrive. If we can find jobs near where they live, then that's really a great thing," Griggs said. "Just imagine if you didn't have to get in your car or take a bus or ride a bike to work. If you could just walk to work, that means you're more likely to be at work."

Camren Cross, the recreation supervisor at Parks and Recreation, played a part in planning the event. He said the police and fire department will be there if they can.

"We like to have our community reach officers there and, if possible, our beat officers there, so the people in that neighborhood can get a chance to meet them and have a good idea of who's working for them," he said.

Griggs said he sees a block party as a successful method because without community interaction, social structure can fall apart.

"It's a known fact that if you know your neighbors, if you know people down the street, you're going to be a better neighbor yourself," he said. "It makes for a more cohesive neighborhood."

He said a decrease in crime could be a benefit as well.

"If I'm watching out for you, you'll watch out for me," he said. "We all know the more positive activities you have, the least likely you're going to have the negative activities."

Other than the job fair, there will be free food, games and music. It will be at Auburn Hills Park, 5101 Derby Ridge Drive. 

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