A mix of longtime Freret neighborhood leaders and recent transplants to the area were chosen as the new leaders of the Neighbors United community group, and among their top priorities is creating a booster club at Evans Park, they said last week.
The park at 5100 LaSalle Street has been without a booster club for some time, but resident Linda Compton-Johnson said she has been working to create one, with a kickoff party scheduled for September. She hopes to start small, with programs like toddler soccer, and add more activities over time.
“As more and more neighbors get involved, we can start building that program,” Compton-Johnson said.
The booster club will also coordinate scheduling with other groups, including the Uptown Softball and Ultimate Frisbee groups. Between now and the kickoff party, Compton-Johnson said she will be working out of the Freret Neighborhood Center on Tuesdays.
Creating more constructive activities for children in the neighborhood, Compton-Johnson said, will be one of the most effective ways neighbors can get involved in the fight against crime.
“Crime cameras are a good tool to attack crime, but they don’t reduce it,” she said.
Stan Norwood, the incoming president of Neighbors United, praised the effort. Neighbors have long sought to have Evans Park available for more neighborhood sports, and Norwood said he will make supporting the booster club a priority. Currently, kids in the Freret neighborhood are going as far away as Harrell Park in west Carrollton to play organized football, Norwood said.
“I just want to get the ball rolling,” Norwood said. “This is something that’s extremely important.”
Compton-Johnson said she hopes the business community will also get involved, and owners of the Gasa Gasa music club on Freret Street pledged to hold a benefit show for the effort.
The discussion was held at last week’s meeting of Neighbors United (June 8), which also included elections for new association leaders. Norwood — who will succeed outgoing president Andrew Amacker — was the sole candidate for president.
“I’ve been the eyes and ears for a lot of people through the community, and I get an earful every day,” said Norwood, a barber at Dennis Barber Shop on Freret Street and lifelong neighborhood resident. “I’d love to be the person to help the community move forward.”
Michael Collins, a 12-year resident of the neighborhood and owner of The Other Bar and other businesses, was voted vice president. Glennis Scott, a former Neighbors United president, was named treasurer, and Scott Solo, owner of the Rook Cafe, will serve as secretary.
Association board members include Linda Compton, who joined Neighbors United shortly after its founding in 1974, former presidents Andrew Amacker and Dean Gancarz-Davies, Richard Dimitry and Matthew Brichetto, a pastor at Vintage Church who recently moved to the city.
With a mix of longtime Freret residents and recent transplants in the association, Norwood said he hopes to see the changing neighborhood become more unified — with members of both groups making an effort to get to know one another.
“Anyone should feel free at any time to take a walk around the neighborhood and meet your neighbors,” Norwood said as the meeting closed.