Campus: Monterey Bay -- April 3, 2006

Revitalization efforts continue on Soledad Street

For the second consecutive year, Soledad Street will get a facelift, courtesy of CSUMB students, community members and the guests of Dorothy's Hospitality Center.

The former Chinatown area of Salinas has been a gathering place for the marginalized and the poor, in part because Dorothy's has been providing free meals to the community for 23 years. The neighborhood was once a focal point of thriving Chinese and Japanese communities, but in recent years has been neglected.

Last year, concern that the lease for Dorothy's Place is set to expire in December sparked renewed energy toward revitalizing the neighborhood. In spring of 2005, collaborative efforts among the city of Salinas, the Coalition of Homeless Services Providers, CSUMB and neighborhood property owners resulted in a Homelessness Summit, a Soupline Forum and a Beautification Day - all successful events.

Since then, CSUMB has received a three-year $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to plan for the redevelopment of the neighborhood, create a 40,000 square-foot community garden, and open a New Soledad Street Community Center which will house a job center. A Salinas Downtown Community Board comprised of representatives from businesses, service providers, property owners and the homeless has been formed, which will oversee the beginning phases of the redevelopment process.

The new community center, located next door to Dorothy's at 22 Soledad Street, is set to open this spring, under the direction of newly hired program manager Marie Sandy. Iris Peppard, a CSUMB graduate and founder of the Marina Farmers' Market, has been hired as garden coordinator. She will lead the efforts to create job opportunities in the Community Garden across the street from the new Community Center.

The revitalization events this year are part celebration and part continuation of the work begun last year. The second Soupline Forum: Imagining a New Soledad Street will be held on Friday, April 21 from noon to 3 p.m. at the Buddhist Temple of Salinas, 14 California Street. Following a lunch catered by Dorothy's Hospitality Center, the program will include presentations by members of the Delancy Street Project in San Francisco, an update on the Soledad Street projects, a panel of neighborhood stories by members of the Japanese, Chinese, student, homeless, and service provider communities, and an opportunity to share stories and dreams for the new neighborhood.

On Saturday, April 22, from 9 a.m. to noon, CSUMB students, community members, property owners, and the public are invited for a day of activities and celebration. The projects include painting a mural for the New Soledad Street Community Center, cleaning the streets, constructing planter boxes and benches for the Community Garden, painting the buildings, and clearing vacant lots. After the cleanup, everyone is welcome to celebrate with a BBQ block party from noon to 2 p.m. The public is invited and donations are welcome.

Contact: Pamela Motoike at 831-582-3633 or Robert Smith at 831-757-3838.

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