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Spike in crime sparks park program revival in West Palm Beach

Posted at 8:09 PM, May 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-23 20:09:37-04

For months three local men combined their resources to host "Art in the Park" at Blum Park in the Pleasant City neighborhood in West Palm Beach.

The event stems from Youth Concept Gallery, a community-based art collective. The founder, Kwon Etefia, says the collective consists of aspiring artists from the inner-cities of South Florida who mentor at-risk youth. 

Etefia joined forces with community activists Tree Carter and A.B. Granger to create "Art in the Park," which launched in February 2018.

"We want to preserve these areas," Carter said.

Carter is well known in the Pleasant City and Northwood Village community. The "Art in the Park" event was held on Saturdays in Blum Park.

"We offer culture and different activities for the kids on a Saturday morning," Carter said. "There's live music, we have a DJ, we have food for the kids and activities."

For three months, the program thrived neighbors and local business owners started to pitch in.

"It was great, it was great it was very positive," Michael Welch recalled. They had a good turnout."

Welch who owns A1A Printing made shirts for the event and across the street the owner of Harold's Coffee Lounge donated water and ice.

"It's just something that can bring the community out to see that there's more going on than just bad stuff in the neighborhood," Bobby Chiners said.

But Tree says keeping up with demand got difficult.

"The last month I did Art in the Park I was basically homeless," he said.

The events slowed and he watched their progress disintegrate. Now, his group is hoping to partner with the city to make 'Art in the Park' an official event.

"I hope the mayor's office do shine a little light on our situation because we need that sense of stability," he said.

Stability he thinks might be able to bring real change.

"When the kids look forward to it, the adults look forward to it and with that being said the adults make sure everything is safe," Carter said.

Tree says the co-founder, Etefia is working with the mayors office to try and see if they can get funding to relaunch the event. He says their goal is to relaunch "Art in the Park" within the next two weeks.