After the Arcata City Council approved eight beautification and community improvement projects for Valley West during a meeting in April, the oft-overlooked neighborhood’s makeover has begun with the planting of five fruit trees in Valley West Park on Halen Drive.
Kimberly White, a coordinator for 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, told the Outpost that the trees include a kinderkrisp apple, a bosc pear, a snow beauty peach, a satsuma plum and a pomegranate.
A pomegranate?! The Outpost was surprised to hear about this seemingly exotic addition, and asked White if a pomegranate tree is expected to perform well in our climate. “That one was gifted to us and we were told it was ‘a hopeful,’” White responded. “But even if it doesn’t ever fruit, it will be a beautiful tree.”
The other trees can vary in how long they take to fruit, usually anywhere between three and 10 years, depending on the variety. White said that during the dry months, the trees will be watered by community volunteers.
In addition to the planting of the fruit trees, the Valley West improvements include adding a picnic bench and barbecue grill to the park, the addition of several new murals, an open-air flea market (or tianguis), holding free dance classes, weekend theater classes for kids and monthly teen meetups. The projects are being funded by $15,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, allocated by the city.
White said that CUNA and the City are in the process of adding the picnic bench, grill and some new trash and recycling bins to the park and that will be complete very soon. The murals – which will include a mural on the Hallen Drive basketball court and five smaller community murals around the park and basketball court – will also be completed soon, White said.
The Rebound project is getting ready to start painting the basketball court, and local muralist Ben Goulart has already begun outlining his murals, which community volunteers will be asked to help paint.
The free dance classes and children’s theater classes are also already underway and take place on the weekends at Steps Studio in the Valley West shopping center. The first tianguis market is scheduled for Saturday, June 25 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Carlson Park on Mad River Parkway.
White said that CUNA is still looking for vendors to participate in the tianguis and encouraged anyone interested to call (707) 633-3867 or email email@example.com. White said that she really hopes to see lots of participation and attendance at the first event, so that CUNA can hold more of them in the future. White also encourages folks to call or email if they are interested in volunteering to help paint the murals. “No experience necessary,” White said.