Arcata City Council with Kimberly White’s head in the corner | Screenshot from meeting video



Valley West is getting a long-overdue makeover that will included the addition of murals, fruit trees, a new picnic bench and multiple community events and activities, after the Arcata City Council approved a list of eight proposed Valley West improvement projects presented during the Wednesday night council meeting. 

The projects were brought forward by Comunidad Unidad del Norte de Arcata (CUNA) — a project of local nonprofit Cooperation Humboldt — that has been partnering with the City of Arcata to improve the Valley West neighborhood through community connectivity and beautification. 

The eight projects — which include planting fruit trees in Valley West Park, adding a picnic bench and grill to the Hallen basketball court, adding murals to the park and to the court, holding weekend dance classes, weekend theater classes for kids and monthly teen meetups — were selected by Valley West residents through a participatory budgeting process facilitated by CUNA. After gathering community feedback and brainstorming, CUNA developed a list of 12 project proposals. Valley West residents were then given the opportunity to vote on the projects at both an in-person event and online.

Kimberly White, a coordinator for CUNA, told the council that of the 12 proposals, Valley West residents showed the most support for planting fruit trees in the park. The second most popular was the addition of a picnic bench and grill near the Hallen basketball court and the other top choice was to hold a tianguis (artisan/ flea market). The Valley West residents showed a lot of interest in community activities too, White said, with the addition of weekend dance classes getting a lot of votes, as well as the addition of monthly teen meetups — which will include bowling nights, movie nights and other activities the teens show interest in.

“Our youth out here [in Valley West] — their night on the town is cruising the aisles of Ray’s Food Place,” White said during her presentation to the council. 

The projects will be funded by $15,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, allocated by the city to support Valley West improvements. CUNA estimated the cost of all eight project to go slight over budget, a total of $15,400. In the report presented to the council, CUNA outlined plans to cover the additional $400 by fundraising or dipping into the group’s supply budget. But the council agreed, with permission from Arcata City Manager Karen Diemer, that the City could cover the $400, if necessary.

The council’s decision to approve the projects was unanimous, with Councilmembers Meredith Matthews, Sarah Schaefer and Stacy Atkins-Salazar all expressing enthusiastic support for CUNA’s efforts. Councilmember Brett Watson was absent.

“In city government you usually don’t see $15,000 going very far,” Mayor Atkins-Salazar said during the meeting. “It’s really impressive the ideas and what they’ve come up with to make that amount of money really make a difference in the neighborhood,”