Neighborhood Investment

Seven city neighborhoods will receive assistance in improving the look of their block.

The Jamestown Renaissance Corporation Neighborhood Block Challenge program will assist residents on Newton Avenue, Dearborn Street, West 18th Street, Ellis Avenue, Durant Avenue, Lakeview Avenue and in Forest Heights. This is the fourth year for the program that gives matching grants, up to $1,000, to homeowners for exterior property improvements. During the previous three years, Peter Lombardi, Jamestown Renaissance Corporation deputy director, said there have been 15 neighborhood clusters, with improvements made to 150 properties.

”There has been just under $400,000 invested in exterior improvements,” he said. ”Seventy-one percent of the $400,000 was invested by the property owners.”

Mary Maxwell, Jamestown Renaissance Corporation neighborhood project associate, said the program is becoming more and more popular as people hear about and see the improvements made throughout the city. Maxwell herself participated during the program’s first year in 2011. She said at first it was difficult getting people involved in the program, with only six participating in her neighborhood the first year. However, through the years, more and more people in her neighborhood and surrounding blocks have participated in the program. Since the first year, she said 50 properties have participated in the program in neighborhoods on the west side of the city. She said the neighborhood is known as Park West. Ellis Avenue will be part of the Park West group participating in the program this year.

”They see other people doing it and don’t feel they are wasting their money,” she said.

Maxwell said other city neighborhoods like Lakeview Avenue will once again be participating in the program.

”There have been a lot of properties on the Northside. It started with Northside Pride and Lakeview Avenue. From there you can see it blossoming into other side streets,” she said.

Marijka Lampard is one of the residents of Lakeview Avenue who has participated in the neighborhood block program. Not only have improvements been made to neighborhood houses, but the community has started an action group known as Lakeview Avenue Community Action Project.

”Well we have had 20 sites or homes that have had street appeal improvements done,” she said. ”Six of those are landlords. We are very proud of this because often neighborhoods with rental homes have particular needs.”

She said the community action group formed four years ago and has 70 members. She said the group has a website – lacapjamestown.org – with information about the neighborhood.

”We’ve set goals for the year. We have a vision for Lakeview Avenue,” she said. ”This is important for building our neighborhood, our community. Since we’ve become organized we know our neighbors, and we care about them.”

Lombardi said it is important to remember that all these neighborhoods aren’t just given a handout, but sought out the assistance.

”These groups came to us. They came forward,” he said. ”They’re the ones that got it going. It was up to them so I give them a lot of credit. They are the foot soldiers for revitalization in Jamestown.”

Funding for the block challenge is provided by the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, the Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation, the Darrah Foundation, the Lenna Foundation and Northwest Savings Bank.

Throughout the summer, progress in the seven clusters will be highlighted on the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation’s Facebook page and website, www.jrconline.org.