Re-imagining Cleveland: Vacant lots get new life

9:17 PM, Jun 6, 2010   |    comments
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The ReImagining Cleveland contest challenged residents to turn vacant lots into projects that would improve the quality of life and change how people view their neighborhood and city.

The City and Neighborhood Progress collected $600,000 from the federal government and a foundation to pay for the projects.

Fifty-six of the 100 entries were picked as winners.

Projects include, fruit and vegetable gardens, flower gardens, pocket parks and stormwater abatement sites.

Cleveland has between 18,000 and 20,000 vacant lots, encompassing 3,300 acres.

Gloria Ferris spearheaded a project in Old Brooklyn for a native plant garden and "green" destination in the middle of a typical Cleveland neighborhood of close-packed houses.

"Visitors can sit there on the wall and there's a patio where they can have a picnic," Ferris said.

"When we came out, the place was nothing but bottles and debris...we had lots of volunteers clean it up," David Boyce said.

Neighbor Brandy Hardy said, "It's a lot better to have this than a vacant lot. My kids will enjoy it. A park like this brightens up the neighborhood."

Neighborhood Progress Vice President Bobbie Reichtell said, "It supports the idea, you don't have to just complain about what's happening on your street, you can take action and do somethiing about it."

City Regional Economic Chief Chris Warren said, "This is a way to rethink the city on a street-by-street, neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis."

This project fits the spirit of Mayor Frank Jackson's push to make Cleveland a green city.

Warren thinks improvements are likely to enhance young residents' image of themselves and where they live, seeing vacant lots replaced with attractive and useful projects.

Money is already approved for a Round Two of ReImagining Cleveland Projects.


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