ALEJANDRA ALARCON and BRENDA RINCON/Coachella Uninc
THERMAL – Residents scored a major victory in their 16-year fight for clean air when Riverside County was awarded the funding to pave roads at 31 trailer parks in the unincorporated communities of the eastern Coachella Valley.
The $4.1 million project is scheduled to begin as early as next summer and should be completed within two years.
Dirt roads at the trailer parks have long been a concern of residents for a number of reasons, chief among them being poor air quality.
“When cars pass by, they lift a lot of dust and it affects everyone that lives here,” explained Margarita Gamez, a resident of Gamez Mobile Home Park who has been active in the grassroots effort since 1997.
In 2008, Pueblo Unido, a community development corporation, joined the fight for improved environmental conditions in the region’s trailer parks, which are typically situated in areas that lack potable water, sewer systems and basic infrastructure.
Trailer park residents were the backbone of the organizing effort, and the idea to push for paved roads came from them, said Sergio Carranza, executive director and founder of Pueblo Unido, who added, “I’m just facilitating the project.”
Carranza said that dust and fine particulate pollution from the unpaved roads are linked to the prevalence of asthma and respiratory problems among the many families who live in the trailer parks. The paved roads will also improve accessibility for residents and visitors, and alleviate another major problem in these communities – flooding caused by heavy rains.
Read more at Coachella Unincorporated