By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer

The ribbon cutting ceremony for the new arts court at LeVar Burton Park was one of three events. The basketball court in Oak Park’s McClatchy Park and another one in the city of Roseville were a part of the festivities. (Photo by Antonio R. Harvey).

Jesse Reese could have lived anywhere in the city, but he chose to live in the South Sacramento neighborhood of Meadowview for over 45 years. 

His decision to stay was to “help the area grow,” he said.

Reese, the president of the Meadowview Neighborhood Association, saw another opportunity of growth when he witnessed the unveiling of one of three refurbished basketball courts by the Sacramento Kings and Kaiser Permanente last week. 

LeVar Burton Park, off Meadowview Road, was redone along with Oak Park’s McClatchy Park and Royer Park in the city of Roseville. Reese is glad the local organizations’ partnership picked his neighborhood.

“The Kings and Kaiser Permanente are paying back appreciation for the community,” Reese said. “We as members of the community, I always say, contribute to the success of businesses. In that respect, businesses always support the community, and that is what the Kings and Kaiser Permanente are doing today. It’s a partnership.”

The refurbished courts bring the total to 16 courts presented to the community by the Kings and Kaiser Permanente over the past seven years. The organizations marked the opening of the community basketball courts with special ribbon cutting ceremonies at LeVar Burton Park.

Richfield Park was renamed in honor of the “Roots” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation” actor in 2019. The park commemorates Burton’s efforts as an activist and literacy advocate. He grew up just a few blocks from the park that sits on three acres.

Sacramento Kings President of Business Operations John Rinehart, Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Group Administrator Shawn Miller, Supervisor Patrick Kennedy and Councilmember Mai Vang were in attendance at the ribbon cutting celebration at LeVar Burton Park. 

“It’s community projects like this that really inspires our young folks and makes us feel like we haven’t been forgotten,” said Vang, who represents Council District 8. “No entity can do this type of work alone. It really takes a partnership.”

 Sacramento City Councilwoman Mai Vang of District 8 said the partnership between the Meadowview community, Sacramento Kings and Kaiser Permanente shows faith that they care about disadvantaged neighborhoods. (Photo by Antonio R. Harvey).

Reese, a Kings season-ticket holder since 1985, noted that Meadowview has an unwanted reputation for being a disadvantaged neighborhood. He is also one of the members of the community that works hard to change that criticism.

“There have been changes in this community,” Reese said. “One of the many changes is art and culture that other council members have started. Also, if you look down Meadowview Road, the street has been repaved, new trees have been planted, and more businesses are coming back to the area. All of it is helping the area to grow.”

In addition, the Royer Park and LeVar Burton Park courts feature unique artwork created by Sacramento native Eric Nodora and street art muralists, the Illuminaries, drawing inspiration from basketball culture. 

Nodora dedicated the courts in memory of his wife who passed earlier this year.