Palmer and Sprague Streets in Jamestown are looking a little brighter, thanks to St. Elia's Albanian Orthodox Church and the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation.
The church, as well as several properties around it, participated in the Renaissance Corporation's Renaissance Block Challenge. The program offers matching funds to groups of neighborhoods who work simultaneously on exterior improvement projects.
The program, which is in its second year, provides up to $1,000 to match the work of property owners on everything from painting and porch repair, to landscaping, walkways and new front doors.
Standing in front of St. Elia’s newly repainted church are, from left to right: Nicholas Manno of St. Elia’s, Mayor Sam Teresi, Dolores Parsons of St. Elia’s, Randy Sweeney of the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, Jennifer Satalino of Northwest Savings Bank., Dr. Lillian Ney of the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation’s JRC Board of Directors, Jason Stronz and Peter Lombardi, JRC staff, and Linda Swanson of the Sheldon Foundation.
P-J photo by Liz Skoczylas
"This year, the church upped its commitment to this neighborhood by being the leading force in bringing the Renaissance Block Challenge to this part of the city. In doing this, St. Elia's has really been a great example of the two major goals of the Renaissance Block Challenge," said Peter Lombardi, director of neighborhood initiatives for JRC.
The goals of the challenge are to get neighbors to talk to one another about the goals for their properties, as well as the neighborhood, and to make improvements that send positive signals to the rest of the neighborhood.
Dolores Parsons, member of St. Elia's, went door-to-door in the neighborhood in order to find others willing to participate in the challenge. She was able to find several residents along Palmer and Sprague Streets who were interested.
The church itself received a face lift in the form of new paint to accent the Carpenter Gothic-style of the building. Other neighborhood projects included porch and repainting projects.
"The program is designed to start conversations between neighbors about the future of their streets, and that's exactly what St. Elia's did. Dolores Parsons from the church contacted neighbors and was able to put together a group of property owners who were committed to making exterior improvements this year," Lombardi said.
In all, seven neighborhoods were selected to participate in the Renaissance Block Challenge, following an application process. The others are on Lakeview Avenue; Chestnut Street; the Forest Heights neighborhood; the Royal, Woodworth, Harding and Todd areas of the city's west side; and at the corner of Newton and Bowen.
"Churches and other institutions are critical to the health of Jamestown's neighborhoods. St. Elia's has shown us that institutions working hand-in-hand with their neighborhoods can build confidence and spur revitalization," said Mayor Sam Teresi.
According to Parsons, the painting project for St. Elia's cost $6,000. The church was able to raise the $5,000, and the final $1,000 was provided as a part of the renaissance grant.
"We needed the church repainted, and I had heard about this in the paper. I contacted Peter and he just immediately hooked us up. It was so easy, it really was," Parsons said.
Support for the Renaissance Block Challenge is provided by a range of local funders, including the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, the Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation, the Lenna Foundation, Northwest Savings Bank, and the Chautauqua County Housing Trust Fund. Businesses are also assisting participants with discounts and special coupons, including Brigiotta's Greenhouse and Garden Center, Chautauqua Brick, and Lowe's of Warren.