Forum on Saturday in Concord to discuss Keach Park lighting 

  • David Djamen (left) and Joachim Bosa play soccer on a sandlot at Keach Park at the Multicultural Festival on Sunday afternoon, September 17, 2021. GEOFF FORESTER

  • Leo McGinn tosses the ball during Jeti Dodgeball at the Concord Parks and Recreation’s Stay and Play Camp at Keach Park on Tuesday, July 26, 2022. The camps around the city will extended a week into August. GEOFF FORESTER

Monitor staff
Published: 3/17/2023 9:45:13 AM

Community leaders and soccer enthusiasts will host a public forum Saturday to discuss the importance of raising money to install lights at Keach Park, a popular athletic venue in the Heights of Concord. 

The event is being hosted by Change for Concord, a diverse group of young adults that meets weekly to discuss projects they want to take on with the help of other city groups and organizations. 

High on their list of priorities and initiatives is advocating for better access to city resources and challenging city officials to be more inclusive, as well as pushing for specific initiatives, like the installation of lights at the park. 

The idea of lights at the park, which would cost the city between $400,000 and $500,000, was first presented to city councilors in 2017 by Change for Concord members but councilors voted not to change the recreation budget for that year and instead budgeted the expense for 2018. But lights were never installed and any hope of installation was pushed back again, this time to 2031, which sparked frustration from both community members and Change for Concord.

“Why do these residents have to beg to have lights at a park?” said Patrick Bernard, the organizer of the Panther Elite Soccer Club who works with at-risk youth in Concord. Bernard will be one of the people attending the Saturday discussion at the Community Center on Canterbury Road in Concord from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Change for Concord leader Fisto Ndayishimiye encourages the public to join him and other group members to learn about the desire to install lights at the park and how they can better the Heights community, which was named one of the most diverse neighborhoods in New Hampshire last year. Bernard plans to attend the forum with his student athletes. 

Many new Americans and refugees call the Heights home and use soccer as a way to connect with one another and bridge the gap between cultures. 

“Most important, the vision, in general, is going to be more about services in our community,” Ndayishimiye said. “This specific campaign, our whole hope is that this event will bring connections to our residents and our community. We want to continue to build those relationships.” 

The goal, he continued, is that residents, community members and city leaders will provide feedback, ask questions and give suggestions that will help strengthen the group’s work. 

In preparing for upcoming budget discussions, some city councilors have alluded that financing for the lights could be included and installed as early as 2024, and Ndayishimiye has been working with councilors to see it through and make sure it happens, he said. 

“When we get into the budget process, anything is possible but that doesn’t mean it’s probable but we could certainly change things around in the CIP,” said at-large councilor Byron Champlin. “It’s several years out right now but it’s in the CIP which indicates that it is a project the city has considered to be a promise.”

Jamie Costa

Jamie Costa joined the Monitor in September 2022 as the city reporter covering all things Concord, from crime and law enforcement to City Council and county budgeting. She graduated from Roger Williams University (RWU) in 2018 with a dual degree in journalism and Spanish. While at RWU, Costa covered the 2016 presidential election and studied abroad in both Chile and the Dominican Republic where she reported on social justice and reported on local campus news for the university newspaper, The Hawks' Herald. Her work has also appeared in The *Enterprise *papers and the *Cortland Standard *and surrounding Central New York publications. Costa was born and raised on Cape Cod and has a love for all things outdoors, especially with her dog.

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