We missed the boat

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We had to leave town last week to take care of some family business and missed a number of important and/or fun activities, which we will try to recap in today’s post.

The most important of the missed events was a special meeting of the Residents Advisory Committee. The RAC was set up about four years ago by city Council to advise Council on the implementation of the Warren Strategic Plan (sometimes known as the Poggemeyer Report). We could write pages and pages about the efforts the RAC made to get either Council or the Mayor to adopt even one of its suggestions, but it was not meant to be. So after years of frustrations the RAC voted last week to disband itself. We believe it will reform next month with a new name, detached from local government, with a renewed sense of mission to move Warren forward. New information will be published here as it becomes available.

We missed a great party and the Dada Art Show at the Artisan Cafe last Saturday night. This was a big event hosted by several artists. It was a miserable night but we heard great things about the event.

And we missed the opening night of Black History in Warren at the recently reopened Kinsman House.

What a week to be gone.

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Whole lotta lots to love

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ZepCut630This is pretty exciting and very cool. Here is your chance to realize your micro-vision for Warren on a newly vacant lot and have up to $6000 in funding. It is a new Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership program called Lots to Love. The text of a press release to go out Monday is below. Warren Expressed readers are getting a special sneak preview. We will report on projects that come along as artists step forward. I think this program deserves its own theme song. Imagine what kind of creativity might be unleashed in Warren with this sort of support?

Ironically, we just heard a story on the radio about a man who got sick of finding garbage dumped on a vacant in his neighborhood. He tried a number of things to stop it and finally put a big stone Buddha on the spot where trash collected. Not only did the trash dumping stop but crime in the neighborhood dropped too. Here is a newspaper article on the events. It could work it Warren, too. Creativity solves most problems.

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WARREN –Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership (TNP) is excited to unveil a new program, Lots to Love. The Lots to Love program, the first of TNP’s new slate of “Warren Enriched” programming,  will allow up to $6,000 worth of labor and materials to install a greening project on a newly vacant lot. Eligible lots will be those that have recently had a demolition completed by the Trumbull County Land Bank.

The concept is simple: If you have an idea for a project on a vacant lot, like a pocket park, and are willing to commit to maintaining the project after it is installed, TNP will provide for the installation of the project. To be considered you must have at least 2 people who agree to maintain the project and you will be required to gather neighborhood signatures showing that people are in support of your idea. Churches, Businesses, Neighborhood Associations, and other community groups are encouraged to apply. Don’t worry if your idea is not fully thought out yet, TNP is happy to help you develop your idea further.

Kent State University and Parsons The New School for Design are also partnering with TNP to bring some talented students to Warren to help generate vibrant ideas for vacant lots in the Garden District. Residents of the central city and others interested in the project are encouraged to attend an interactive discussion and design charrette with the New School and Kent State Students, Saturday, February 21st from 1-4pm at the YWCA Warren, 375 North Park Ave.

Interested applicants must attend an application workshop, hosted by TNP in February and March, or meet individually with TNP staff. The program is now open and applications are currently being accepted. Final dates and locations for the workshops will be announced soon. These events will provide important details about how to complete the application and which lots are eligible for the program. The Spring 2015 application window will close Tuesday, March 31st. All applications must be submitted by 5:00pm on the March 31st.

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AVP falls while GE stalls

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DSC_1655Take a drive out West Market Street and you will see that community activism can succeed. The former Austin Village Plaza is finally gone. It has been torn down and carted away. It took some heavy pushing by 7th Ward Councilman Eddie Colbert, the Residents Advisory Committee and by many of you dear readers, but we won. One smallish pile of debris remains because the original demolition contractor (who had to be replaced a couple months ago for failing to meet city regulations) failed to properly separate materials to meet landfill regulations; we assume this will get taken care of once the weather is less rough, but Eddie drives by nearly every day and will keep us posted.

We wish we had similar good news on the former GE Ohio Lamp plants on West Market and Dana streets. Demolition has begun on Dana Street (above) and it won’t be long before that two acre lot on the corner of Park Avenue, a half mile from downtown, in a stable residential neighborhood, a block from the Garden District, looks just like the prison yard GE left us with on Market (below). Since meeting with them last summer to discuss ways to improve the sites, GE officials went from being all smiles “wanting to do the right thing” to ignoring repeated phone calls and emails from us, until finally just saying “no” a month ago to every proposal we made to them. They made no counter offers.

The GE Lighting Division in Cleveland, which is called Nela Park, is supposed to be one of the nicest corporate campuses in America, and yet they seem perfectly happy to leave two huge eyesores in Warren after being in business here for over 100 years. But perhaps that shouldn’t be such a shock considering the way GE has avoided paying U.S. income taxes on tens of billions of dollars of profits over recent years. GE no doubt figures they can out wait us hicks here in Warren and assumes we’ll take whatever they leave us — and like it.

Will we?

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We’ve got good character

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DSCN1083“I really like that we have all types of food here. It’s not just a handful of Italian restaurants. There is the Hot Dog Shoppe, there is Indian food, sushi, and the Sunrise Inn has great pizza.”

“I like Perkins Park. When I was smaller I played on the playground; now my dad and I run on the track, which is pretty fun. I like how you can walk around Warren. It’s not dangerous or anything. Even though it’s a little rough around the edges its got good character. The people here mean well.”

“There’s not much for kids to do here with their friends. The movies are in Niles; so is the trampoline park. But the library is really nice.”

“I would change the way Warren looks. Some of the houses look so beaten down, the sidewalks are all cracked and there is too much litter. We are working on that but we need to do more. Warren is not perfect, it does need some work, but in the end we’ve got a good city.”

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Downtown millennial

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DSCN1095“I enjoy the affordable living here in Warren. I was gone for 6 years and lived in a much bigger city where everything was more expensive.  But more important to me is the sense of community here that was absent in that larger city. There just wasn’t the same connectivity to the community as a whole.”

“We really need more options for downtown living. I live downtown and I’m constantly asked “are there any apartments near you for rent?” And there just aren’t – especially if you want something nice. Millennial’s are all about urban living.”

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