Grants to help groups freshen neighborhoods

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 17

Twelve community groups are richer today, thanks to grants from the Community Partnership Neigh borhood Matching Grant Program.

City leaders hope the neighborhoods that the groups represent soon will be richer too.

“These grants will put a fresh face on Toledo’s neighborhoods,” Mayor Carty Finkbeiner said.

The grants, which total $50,000 and come from federal grant money, are aimed at beautifying Toledo’s neighborhoods and protecting historic districts.

The biggest winners were the Housing East Redevelopment Corp. and the Toledo Central City Neighborhoods Community Development Corp., both of which received $10,000.

Housing East will use the money to support an educational project with the Toledo Public Schools. Vocational students are putting their classroom knowledge to work, building a $100,000 house on Taylor Road in East Toledo.

The central-city group will use the grant to fund legal actions against 12 properties considered public nuisances. If successful, the properties’ owners will be required to invest money into repairing their lots or risk forfeiture.

Community leaders said the grant money will provide momentum to worthy projects that have suffered for a lack of funding.

For example, Toledo Olde Towne Community Organization, which works in a central-city neighborhood just north of downtown, will use its $5,000 to paint 10 homes on Delaware Avenue in the spring.

The organization tried similar painting programs before but had to abandon them for lack of funds.

In the northern Old West End, the city’s money will show itself in the form of well-lit houses.

A $5,000 grant to the Old West End Renaissance Area will help fund Lights On, Crime Out, a program that will provide 200 homes with low-cost motion-detecting lights to discourage burglars.

“We’re very, very excited,” said Robbie Tucker, the group’s chairman. “This is a project we’ve been working on for years.”

The lights normally cost $75 each, but a deal with Toledo Edison lowered the cost to $50 apiece.

Yesterday’s grant will lower the cost to homeowners to $25.

The $2,500 grant won by the Lucas Metropolitan Housing Authority will be used to expand its community garden program citywide. Residents of housing projects can now grow much of their own food in the gardens.

“I think it’s fantastic,” said LMHA’s Mary Burnett. “The city would rather see food and flowers growing than weeds.”

Mr. Finkbeiner said the grants’ emphasis on beautification will raise property values and bring newcomers to neighborhoods.

“Putting a nice face on a neighborhood encourages people already living there to stay there and encourages people thinking of moving in to do it,” he said.

“We really couldn’t be more pleased with the leadership the central city is developing,” he said. “I know where I won the election – … in the central city.”

The funds are coming from a federal block grant for community development. This is the first year the city distributes that money through this program, which is modeled on similar ones in Seattle and Cleveland.