JAMESTOWN - Landscaping, porch repairs, painting and sidewalk replacement are projects that will begin soon in four neighborhoods as part of the Jamestown's Renaissance Block Challenge.
Neighborhood clusters located on Lincoln Street, Liberty Street, Grant Street and Royal Avenue are participating in the program's inaugural year, giving property owners access to matching grants and other assistance to complete a wide range of exterior improvements. The four groups, which include 30 property owners and a mix of owner-occupants and landlords, applied to the program this spring.
The Renaissance Block Challenge is a component of the neighborhood revitalization plan adopted by City Council in December and managed by the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation.
"We want to support exterior improvements to clusters of homes in order to boost curb appeal and build strong blocks,'' said Peter Lombardi, Jamestown Renaissance Corp. neighborhood initiatives director. ''But we also want to see people working together to improve their neighborhoods and address problems proactively.''
Competing clusters were required to have at least five participating property owners to maximize the program's impact.
In their applications, participants outlined exterior improvements they wish to complete this summer and skills they can bring to projects in their cluster. Each is now eligible for a dollar-for-dollar match, up to $1,000, to help pay for their projects. Some property owners are doing one or two simple projects to spruce up their homes-new bushes, trim painting-while others are replacing walkways, rebuilding porches or painting one or more sides of their homes.
Funding for the Renaissance Block Challenge's matching grants is being provided by the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, the Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation and the Lenna Foundation. Local businesses are also assisting participants with discounts and special coupons, including Brigiotta's Greenhouse and Garden Center and Everyday's Super True Value.
Three of the clusters - Liberty, Lincoln, and Grant - are located just north of downtown in an area organized by Northside PRIDE. With a diverse housing stock and many impressive old homes, the neighborhood has seen renewed interest and investment in recent years. Royal Avenue, near the city's western boundary, sits in a neighborhood with leafy streets and many long-time homeowners.
Throughout the summer, progress in the four clusters will be highlighted on the Jamestown Renaissance Corp.'s Facebook page and website, where instructions for the 2012 Renaissance Block Challenge will be posted next January.