Neighbors dedicate community garden in Milwaukee

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MILWAUKEE -- Groups joined forces to take back their neighborhood on Saturday, June 16th after drugs and loitering drew negative attention.

The groups dedicated a community garden at North 24th Place and Keefe Avenue in Milwaukee.  Neighbors say it signifies growth in more ways than one.  

Little ones with rakes and shovels put in work.  They also had paint brushes in hand as they worked on the "Rays of Sunshine Community Garden" that now sits where an abandoned house used to be. 

"A few years ago, we used to do a neighborhood walk-through and there was a problem or a nuisance house, an abandoned house with overgrown trees and bushes.  It had drug dealing around it, and loitering and it was just a nuisance for the neighborhood, and eventually, someone even got murdered outside," Milwaukee Alderwoman Milele Coggs said.

Eventually, the house was torn down and replaced with the community garden.   Neighbors say it helps beautify the area, bringing positive energy. 

"It shows that if you come together and complain about the bad things in your neighborhood and want to see some solutions, you can make it happen, so I think this is a shining example of people taking back their neighborhood," Coggs said.

Clifford Ray Jr. has lived in the neighborhood for more than two decades.  He says it has come a long way. 

"This whole area used to be real bad -- shooting every night, so that got cleaned up.  A lot of the young guys, I don't know where they are, but I don't see them anymore.  It's good, it's a good neighborhood now.  There have been a lot of tears and prayers," Ray Jr. said.

The garden has become a meeting place for neighbors where they can all come together.   Groups plan to add benches and other items, hoping what used to be an eyesore can become a jewel.