A multi-million-dollar project to improve how the city handles rain runoff and stormwater in north Omaha is almost complete. It's a seven-million-dollar renovation of the park and there might be another benefit to the project that runs along Ames Avenue.
Nearby residents say they hope the renovated park may help drive something away, Omaha Parks and Recreation has added new elements to Fontenelle Park over the years to attract more people to the park. Nearby residents hope the new renovations will lead to a reduction in crime,
In the span of six years Fontenelle Park has transformed from a nine-hole golf course to a scenic park full of fun activities for families. In an effort to draw more people to the park the city added a walking path, large picnic areas and put seven million dollars into expanding the lagoon, making it two and a half times bigger, which will be stocked with fish.
However, this isn't the only remodel the park has seen, resident Michael Wilkins remembers growing up here. “When I was little it didn't use to look anything like this and now that they got everything developed it's like man I wish I was kid down here,” said Wilkins.
Even though Fontenelle Park has transformed over the years, one aspect has remained the same, crime in the neighborhood. An online database shows in just the past week ten crimes within blocks were reported to Omaha Police, and more than 50 in the past month. With the most common incidents being vehicle theft and assault.
However, Wilkins says he feels completely safe bringing his kids to this neighborhood park. "It's got the best of all worlds, they love it, I love them being here,” said Wilkins. A feeling shared by resident Wesleyon Zollicoffer. “I know there is history with the park, but we always feel safe,” said Zollicoffer.
Zollicoffer also grew up in North Omaha and says renovations can only mean good things for the community and the crime rate. “When you beautify a neighborhood, people take more ownership of it, so I do believe that it will cut down,” said Zollicoffer.
Wilkins doesn't see crime as a problem at this park, but he is still happy to see renovations in North Omaha. “I love to see this place grow and become great." While the park was being renovated the city says it made a conscious effort to keep parts of the park open for families to enjoy.