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St. Louis community unites to reclaim park from troublemakers

The project is helping to revitalize the park and the sense of community around it.

A St. Louis neighborhood is reclaiming a park once overgrown by weeds and overrun by troublemakers. The project is helping to revitalize the park and the sense of community around it.

The project, called Project Take Back Windsor Park, is a joint effort among neighbors, police and community leaders. And it's the kind of thing people hope will catch on citywide.

Monday morning, Windsor Park in north St. Louis was filled with the sounds of kids laughing and playing and a friendly game of touch football. All things missing from north St. Louis' Windsor Park until six weeks ago.

“This park had been used by individuals who had been drinking illegally, using drugs. So, not a place where young people would feel comfortable,” said North Newstead Association Executive Director Sal Martinez.

Fed up with the bad element running the park, St. Louis police officer Jamie Partee decided to take a stand.

“She actually came up with this on her own,” said Captain Renee Kriesmann of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. “She said ‘Hey, I think I'm just going to go up to the park and have lunch and see who shows up.’”

The idea grew into a weekly summer party, of sorts, with a free lunch for kids sponsored by numerous community partners.

Visitors helped clean up the park and once again create a safe, healthy environment for children.

“There's no drinking, no cursing, no drugging up here. There's no fighting. Neighbors are coming together to talk and enjoy the park, and that’s what we should be doing,” said park visitor Candice Israelsen.

While it may seem like kids just having fun, organizers say gatherings like Monday’s are helping rebuild neighborhoods.

“This is what real community looks like. people coming together to make things better, to give these neighborhoods and their amenities back to the people who truly need them and deserve them,” said Martinez.

The Take Back Windsor Park crew will hold their final summer gathering at the park Monday, July 31 around 11 a.m. The St. Louis fire and police departments will provide a bounce house and an ice cream truck. Parents and kids in the surrounding area are invited to come join the celebration.