LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It's a place once known for gangs, gambling, drug deals and shootings, but Friday morning Victory Park won a major victory: a $1 million investment designed to make the park and the neighborhood more safe. 

The park kids play in today is not the one Dwayne Deberry remembers from his childhood.

"People was arguing, and all we heard was gunshots, so we started running," said 14-year-old James Offett, recalling an incident in 2016. 

But Deberry has fonder recollections.

"When I was coming up, this was a family park," Deberry said. "We'd get together on the weekends ... and have fun."

Somewhere along the way, the playground fell into the hands of Crips and criminals. Neighbors like Deberry fought for years to take it back, which made Friday's groundbreaking even sweeter. 

The revitalization project includes a new basketball court, walking course, open fields, trees and new lighting for nighttime security. 

The funding is coming from the Olmsted Parks Conservancy, donations and Metro Government

"It is our hope that these improvements will contribute to the overall health culture and well-being of the California neighborhood," said Rachel Kennedy of Olmsted Parks.

The need is apparent. When reporters were asking Deberry if he feared those with bad intentions would bring old habits back to the park, before he could answer fully, what sounded like gunshots rang out -- and moments later, a siren.

"They ain't going to be over here acting crazy..." Deberry said, when the sound cut him off. 

Victory Park falls in Metro Louisville Councilman David James' district.

"We do have a violence problem in our city, and this is one of the areas that has been identified based on the numbers we see," he said. "So revitalizing this park also helps revitalize this neighborhood." 

Police stepped up patrols around Victory Park last year, and neighbors say they're seeing results.  The hope is to make the four blocks between 22nd Street and 23rd Street, and West Kentucky Street and Greenwood Avenue, like an island of peace. 

"If it's rebuilt, more children will want to play here and that's more fun," Offett said.

"And it might be safer for the children," added 12-year-old Joseph Allen. 

Perhaps a new Victory Park will bring victory to the California community. 

The first phase of construction at Victory Park is expected to be completed this summer.

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