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Neighbors hear revitalization plans during SPARCC’s first community meeting

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Tuesday night, people who live in North Memphis received some new  information about a program that will give their neighborhood a spark.

In fact, the program is called SPARCC, which gives grant money to revitalize inner city neighborhoods. Memphis was one of six cities chosen to participate.

Tuesday evening officials held the first community meeting and it was all about understanding how SPARCC works, what it will pay for and for residents to have their voices heard.

It was a packed room with a lot of concerns at the Hollywood Community Center.

"I look back when I was little girl on how the neighborhood looked and to see it now, it is really sad," said Mary Westbrook.

Westbrook was raised in North Memphis and moved back to Hyde Park five years ago. She told WREG she walks a lot but doesn't feel safe.

"I walk and I'm always so sad, I say 'This just pitiful,'" said Westbrook.

Westbrook said she wants to see more parks.

"First of all, clean up North Memphis," said Westbrook. "I believe if we clean it up then a lot of other things come becuase we have kids riding around on their bikes and things, and again it's just scary."

The SPARCC grant is $250,000 a year for three years. Much of the money will go to five people on staff who will plan and prioritize.

The Wolf River is the north and west boundary the grant covers. North Parkway and Summer Avenue to the south and North Graham on the east side.

"There are so many neighborhoods in North Memphis and the goal is to have all the neighborhoods represented," said Shep Wilbun.

"Also to have them sit down among themselves within their own neighborhood  decide what they would like to see happen and develop that into a plan of action."

But before that a collaborative table has to be in place.

"Just something as simple as what size the collaborative group will be? Will it be 20 members or 50 members? Those decisions right now have not been made," said Wilbun.