Jamestown residents living within the perimeter of the newly formed Park West Association had plenty to celebrate this weekend.
Formerly known as "Wild West Side," the Park West Association tied its biennial block party into a celebration of its recent designation as a "Renaissance Block" by the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation.
The event was held as a combined "cluster" block party on Royal Avenue, and included residents from Royal, Fullerton Avenue, Hallock Street, Harding Avenue, Todd Avenue and Woodworth Avenue. Although the idea of a block party is not new to the community's residents, David Troxell, publicity coordinator for Park West, said Saturday's block party was still significant.
"This will be the first time we've gotten together as a block party since the Renaissance grant was given out," Troxell said.
Several activities were planned for the afternoon event, including a potluck dinner, a drum circle and a tour of the cluster.
Troxell explained that the Park West Association was originally formed through the community's response to JRC's Renaissance Block Challenge, which began in 2011.
"Part of the Renaissance block grant is the idea that we should develop neighborhoods," Troxell said. "So we've taken this area and made a group out of it - which we call Park West, because it's (Jamestown's) west side, and we're right next to Veterans Park. We like the name."
Also in attendance was Mary Maxwell, neighborhood project associate with JRC, who explained the significance of JRC's block grants in revitalizing Jamestown.
"(The block grants) have helped to stimulate or strengthen neighborhood organizations," Maxwell said. "We are encouraging people to help fix up their neighborhoods. And get them together to share resources, share equipment and share contractors, and just kind of motivate everybody to pick up and start making things look better for the beautification of Jamestown."
When JRC's block grant program began in 2011, a total of 21 property owners from four neighborhoods participated. Collectively, the participating property owners spent a total of nearly $50,000 on improvements, with nearly $16,000 being reimbursed to the participants through the program's matching grants.
Since then, those numbers have increased in both successive years to include 15 participating clusters, 150 households, approximately $300,000 invested by homeowners and approximately $100,000 reimbursed by JRC. Maxwell said 12 clusters across Jamestown applied for block grants this year, but there was only enough funding to award four.
"It got competitive because we only had enough money to sponsor four clusters," she said. "The clusters that won the applications were ones that looked like they were going to have a sustainable neighborhood organization, because we want this to last. We don't want them to just take the money from the grants, we want them to organize and motivate each other."
To learn more about, or apply for, JRC's Renaissance Block Challenge, go to www.jrconline.org/neighborhoods/reinvest/renaissance-blocks. Updates to the challenge will be posted to JRC's Facebook page.
Mary Maxwell can be reached at 664-2477, ext. 224, or by email at email@example.com.