Since 2003, the all-volunteer Cedar Park Neighbors have worked with the Collaborative to devise a long-term vision for regaining control of blighted segments of their diverse community. Maureen Tate, longtime resident and former vice president of Cedar Park Neighbors, has been active in those efforts from the beginning, and sees them as both a success story and a work in progress.
GRID: Your first partnership with the Collaborative focused on Cedar Park itself?
Tate: From the perspective of the community, it was a very underutilized and a very abused park. There was a lot of criminal activity, drug dealing, violence; we needed to do something about this park as part of a larger neighborhood improvement project. So we submitted an application to the Community Design Collaborative to help us with a vision for that park. Now it’s turned totally around and is a really pleasant, vibrant green space at the heart of the community.
GRID: You then parlayed that success into a grander plan for Baltimore Avenue?
Tate: For a long time, Cedar Park Neighbors has been concerned about the 5000-5100 blocks of Baltimore, because as soon as you pass 50th Street, things change dramatically. This is a much more complex situation than a park, but we thought maybe the same process could happen again, where we’d have the benefit of the Collaborative’s professional expertise to guide a conversation and shape the vision. Even with great ideas, groups like ours would never have the capacity to take the kinds of steps that we’ve taken without that.
GRID: One thing you’ve insisted on is maintaining the unique personality of Cedar Park. How would you define that?
Tate: Cedar Park is one of the most diverse neighborhoods that I’ve seen in the city. Some people describe the neighborhood as a little edgy—if you have three people in a room, there’ll be five opinions. And that’s a good thing in terms of keeping us open to new ideas.