South Omaha receives $1M in federal funding to revitalize Plaza De La Raza

The entire plaza revitalization is budgeted to cost $3 million.
A half million dollars went into the bank for South Omaha last week and another half million will be coming soon.
Published: Jul. 28, 2022 at 5:20 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A half million dollars went into the bank for South Omaha last week and another half million will be coming soon.

Picture Turner Park in Midtown Crossing or Stinson Park in Aksarben Village. That’s what community organizers hope Plaza De La Raza can be.

“We’re looking for a green, fun space, where our kids, our families can gather, enjoy a meal enjoy, programming, completely free of charge,” said Itzel Lopez, board president of the Latino Economic Development Council.

The project now has $1 million dedicated towards it from ARPA funding, which is federal funding for areas hit hard by the pandemic.

“This area was hit one of the most. When you look at census tracks of what areas was most affected by COVID, well this is 68107, 105, 108. Those are areas that were hit really hard,” said Marcos Mora, board member of the South Omaha Business District.

“Across 24th street between streets L and Q, there’s over a 100 small businesses,” said Lopez.

Half of the money came from Douglas County this week, and the rest will come from the city soon. Nonprofit Canopy South will manage the money.

“Phase one is the revitalization of the space that exists right now. No touching anything right now that is the parking lot. Phase two and phase three, what it does is that it expands into the parking lot,” said Cesar Garcia, executive director of Canopy South.

The entire plaza revitalization is budgeted to cost $3 million. Now that $1 million is secured, organizers are doing community engagement and working to secure the other $2 million for phase two and phase three.

“Ultimately, when we are done with the three phases, this part [the parking lot] becomes the epicenter of the park,” said Garcia.

This money comes after community organizers and activists expressed concern over the inequitable distribution of funds to South Omaha.

“We wanted to be proactive and say ‘Hey, we kind of feel like we’re being left out.’ But at the same time, ‘Here we are. Let’s work together.’ So I think that’s what the message we’re sending now is, ‘Hey, let’s all work together. Make Omaha great, but let’s also make South Omaha great,”' said Mora.

The project does have a timeline. ARPA funding needs to be obligated by 2024 and spent by 2026.

But Cesar Garcia says that work could be started as early as next year.

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