New Lights Illuminate a Path Toward a Greater Future of Keach Park 

By SARAH DONOVAN

Monitor staff

Published: 07-20-2023 5:38 PM

Concord city counselors did their part by approving nearly $400,000 to install lights at Keach Park in next year’s budget. On Saturday, the city’s growing immigrant population plans to celebrate.

Called the “Keach Park Lights Celebration,” the event will feature a soccer game, music, dancing, food and certificates of achievement to the city’s young leaders who are trying to improve the community.

Nestled in the heart of Concord Heights, Keach Park provides a place of refuge, entertainment and a space for physical activity in one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the state, data from the 2020 U.S. Census shows. What the park has lacked is proper lighting. That’s why in November of 2022, Fisto Ndayishimiye petitioned the city council once again to have the installation of proper lighting for the park put on the Fiscal Year 2024 budget.

All along, the push for lights was about more than just illumination.

“It’s such a huge campaign. It’s not just about lights, it’s about how the city thinks about minorities,” said Ndayishimiye, who advocates for greater equity in the city as the lead organizer for Change for Concord.

The installation of lights in the park will ensure a safe and positive place to recreate and play soccer, even after night falls.

“I think this is going to build our community,” said Ndayishimiye.

The idea for lights has been around since 2017 when the proposal was first showcased to the city council and it was put on the Fiscal Year 2020 budget, before getting pushed back by other priorities. With Ndayishimiye’s advocacy, city administrators included $384,000 in the city budget to pay for the installation of LED lights at Keach Park, which was approved by city councilors.

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Ndayishimiye said that this project is a stepping stone toward other initiatives that will create a safer and more engaging place for the community.

To celebrate this long-awaited moment – even though the lights have not yet been installed – the celebration will be held Saturday from 2-5 p.m. at Keach Park, 9 Newton Ave.

A competitive soccer game will be held between members of Change for Concord and Project STORY, a grassroots, all-volunteer organization dedicated to assisting and empowering refugee and New American youth in Concord. The game is aimed to build community between the two organizations, with Project Story, a youth organization, and Change for Concord, geared toward young adults.

Ndayishimiye said he hopes many people will come out to support the soccer game and the good news for the park and its people.

“This campaign highlights DEIJ – diversity, equity, inclusion and justice – what we need as a community,” said Ndayishimiye. “This is a direction we want to take.”

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