Next month, the Housing Authority of the County of San Bernardino and National CORE will break ground on a large scale redevelopment project of San Bernardino’s Waterman Gardens.
“The Gardens” as we used to call the public housing project when I was a kid growing-up in the city, was a magnet for crime and all sorts of nefarious activities. There was constantly news of shootings, of drug deals, of crime. It was one of those places that became a place to avoid unless you lived there. And even then, the law abiding good families seemed to be outnumbered by the bad actors who not only terrorized their neighbors, but anyone who happened to pass through the neighborhood.
It clearly was a block to avoid.
On Sunday I took a drive through San Bernardino. I went to visit my dad. Then met my brother at our office on Waterman Avenue. And instead of traveling north on Waterman back to Highway 30, I ventured south just to survey “The Gardens” in anticipation of this week’s issue. It was a quiet Sunday evening. A small number of people were walking to the various stores open on the corner of Baseline and Waterman. It reminded me of the calm before a great storm. Soon there will be massive construction as the 252 small well-worn units are leveled to make way for a mixed-finance affordable housing community with some for-sale condo units, market-rate rental units, and community facilities.
The landscape of the city of San Bernardino is changing.
Both the Housing Authority of the County of San Bernardino and National CORE consider this project a “catalyst for change” in an area of San Bernardino that hasn’t seen positive change in generations. What is exciting is that this isn’t the only new project happening in my hometown. Just last month, Loma Linda University Health broke ground on a campus in San Bernardino and announced the creation of San Manuel Gateway College, a joint educational effort focused on medical education and training in healthcare careers.
The Waterman Gardens redevelopment is long overdue. Hopefully it is just the beginning of a revitalization that will eventually improve the entire city.
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