Visioning a new future: Oakland neighborhood ready for a facelift

TOPEKA (KSNT) — Imagine living in a community were you have the right to say what business sits on each corner. Or where you want the community park to be.

That is exactly what is happening in Oakland right now. The goal is to re-create an Oakland neighborhood that is unique.

Thursday night residents came together for a town hall meeting to do just that, create a vision.

“A district idea. Something that is going to revamp the whole neighborhood, and that is what we need, a complete overhaul,” said Oakland resident, Lindsey Martin.

The questions are pretty simple. What changes, and improvements do residents living in the Oakland neighborhood want to see? And how can they be achieved?

Residents like Martin tried to provide some answers. And while this might have been a small group of residents, those living in this neighborhood say they are ready to clean-up.

“That is what I am here for. Plant myself in a neighborhood that needs work and fix it,” Martin says.

Members of the Seward Avenue Action Group and the Oakland Neighborhood Improvement Association are in the first phase of planning the neighborhood’s re-development.

“Phase one is actually from east of Sumner all the way to Rice Road,” says Elinor Cowell, Chair of the Seward Avenue Action Group.

New streets, new curbs, a new sewage system. But that’s just a small part, of a bigger vision.

“We would like to find something that makes us special,” Cowell says.

Thursday night started phase two. Finding that something ‘special’ like new shops, and restaurants.

“I would really like to see the teenager have a place to go,” says Oakland resident, Frances Breedloe.

With help from Heartland Visioning, and modeling of off NOTO, Topeka’s popular art district, the hope is to improve economic development.

“When a community comes together and you break down silos, and create a common goal, these different agencies, and organizations, and individuals can buy into and become a part of neat things happen,” says Kristen Brunkow, Communications Coordinator for Heartland Visioning.

Phase one of the neighborhood development, the remodeling of the streets, sidewalks and sewage system is scheduled to be completed by 2017.

If you were not able to attend Thursday night’s planning meeting, you still have some time to make your voice heard.

Just contact the Oakland Neighborhood Improvement President TJ Brown. or (785) 554-1746


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