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South Oklahoma City neighborhood continues turnaround

More than 200 community volunteers are working to fix up 13 homes in the Riverpark neighborhood in southwest Oklahoma City. Volunteers have restored more than 100 homes in the neighborhood in their six years of volunteer work.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL Published: June 29, 2011

The projects range from painting rooms to building wheelchair ramps.

Houses built in 1940s

Shane Hicks and his co-workers from Hodges Trucking Co. ripped out a wall and floor that had rotted from a broken air conditioner. They replaced it all, reframed the wall and installed a new window. The hot, physical work is easy, Hicks said, because they know what it means to the homeowner. They want the neighborhood to know that the community cares about its success.

“There are people in the world that still care,” Hicks said.

Riverpark was developed in the 1940s and runs from SW 24 to SW 29, between Portland and Tulsa avenues. The average home there sells for about $37,000.

It is a neighborhood in transition.

Neat square houses with painted shutters and tidy gardens line the streets under arching shade trees. Children ride bikes through the neighborhood. Birds chirp.

But some homes have trash or broken down cars in the yards. Paint peels. A woman smokes through a screen door without glass.

There's still work to be done, but so much has already been accomplished. The graffiti is gone. Crime has dropped. The park is now a place for children and soccer teams — not drug dealers.

Improving homes one by one for families who couldn't afford it builds a network of support, Daniel said.

“We're still a low-income neighborhood,” Daniel said. “But when you give somebody back their pride and their spirit, money doesn't matter.”

Riverpark recognized nationally

Riverpark in Oklahoma City was named one of the top neighborhoods in the country this year.

The Riverpark Neighborhood Association was named the runner-up for the 2011 Neighborhood of the Year Award in the Physical Revitalization Beautification category from Neighborhoods, USA, a national nonprofit group.

Riverpark volunteers were honored for the dramatic turnaround of their neighborhood, which runs from SW 24 to SW 29, between Portland and Tulsa avenues.

Riverpark is the first Oklahoma neighborhood that has been named a finalist for the award, said Georgie Rasco, executive director of Neighborhood Alliance of Central Oklahoma.


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