The broad, shady boulevard that defines the neighborhood of Historic South Park is about to experience its latest phase of renewal. On Monday, August 15th at 10AM, a groundbreaking ceremony will celebrate the Park Drive Boulevard Improvement Project. Thanks to a $300,000 Community Development Block Grant, historic reproduction street lights and improved sidewalks will add safety and beauty to this traditionally important space. Work will begin in August 2011 by DeWeese Construction.
Besides the requisite shiny shovels, the program will include words from President of Historic South Park’s neighborhood association Amy Lee, Dayton City Commissioner Nan Whaley and 28-year resident of South Park, activist and preservationist Pam Miller Howard. The theme of the half hour ceremony will be citizen leadership and initiative. Refreshments will be served.
Walked and biked daily by residents, the Boulevard has benefited from the efforts of neighborhood activists since 1987. The Historic SouthPark has association initiated, organized and managed multiple grants, its own funds, private donations, business and City funds over the years to improve the Boulevard–including wrought iron fencing, historic streetlamps, landscaping, landscaping, brick pavers, and the gazebo, now a neighborhood landmark. Historically significant, the creation of the Boulevard was influenced by famous landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of Manhattan’s Central Park, among many other famous U.S.urban green spaces.
When it comes to neighborhood activism, the past is indeed a prelude to the future. The vision of a beautiful common space shared by all neighbors continues to make progress, despite challenging economic times and rumors of Dayton’s “death.” The residents of SouthParktake it upon themselves to find ways to bring investment into their community. In fact, they took up a collection to raise the $5,000 match required by the CDBG grant.
The Boulevard Improvement Project is a celebration of the fruits of their labor. A recent evaluation showed that while most property values are falling, SouthPark’s rose by 23%. Neighbors attribute this to the sweat equity they have in the neighborhood. Many have purchased and upgraded historic homes, and have volunteered thousands of hours to improve safety, keep South Park’s 18 acres of green space tidy, taken part in alley sweeps, hosted Rehabaramas and home tours, and very importantly spent many hours of personal time writing grants.
South Park is very proud of the initiative of its residents in winning this $300,000 Community Development Block Grant, the NUSA Neighborhood of the Year Award in 2008 and the American Institute of Architect’s 150 award in 2007. Leaders continue to emerge from SouthPark as it gains popularity among young professional urbanites as a friendly, pedestrian-scale community close to downtown Dayton.
About the CDBG
The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), one of the longest-running programs of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, funds local community development activities such as affordable housing, anti-poverty programs, and infrastructure development.