ELYRIA — They attacked the Bell Avenue playground last year, cleaning up debris, planting flowers and painting.
They returned on Pride Day last month to mulch, edge and landscape.
Next up for Invest Elyria, a volunteer group established by resident Brandon Rutherford to improve the city both visually and economically, is Abbe Road Park.
And they want your help.
Volunteers are being asked to show up Saturday with flowers or other greenery purchased from the store or brought from your own yard and help beautify the park.
The list of tasks that need accomplished at the park is long. Basketball hoops are in need of replacement and the court is cracked. There is graffiti on the slide, a dead tree needs removed, landscaping is minimal, and there is absolutely no seating or picnic tables. The site is even in need of some garbage cans.
But the group is hoping to accomplish a little at a time with the assistance of the city, local businesses and, of course, volunteers.
No stranger to promoting “cash mobs,” where a business is “mobbed” by patrons during a certain time on a certain day to boost business, Invest Elyria is holding a “landscape mob” this time, joked Elyria resident and Invest Elyria member Tory Mittler.
Mittler, who has been with the group for about a year, said it is really a grassroots effort.
“You can do the smallest thing to help,” she said, “even if it’s just sitting there and being supportive, or running water to people who are working. Raking mulch, donating plants — it all adds up.”
And helping is infectious. Once neighbors see the work going on in their park, they usually end up coming out to help, she said.
The city is always grateful to any group that wants to pitch in, said Elyria Parks and Recreation Director Frank Gustoff.
With limited resources and a limited workforce, the city isn’t able to spend as much time in the smaller parks as it does in the larger ones, according to Gustoff. While the city’s focus has been on the North, South, East and West parks and Cascade Park, groups such as Invest Elyria provide some “TLC” where it is needed.
The city provides mulch and top soil, and Invest Elyria provides manpower.
“They are very community oriented,” Gustoff said. “They enjoy what they do, and they are fun to work with.”
And their work doesn’t go unnoticed.
“People will go by and say, ‘Wow! That’s looking good,’ ” Gustoff said. “I’m finding that a lot.”
In the past few years, Gustoff has had a number of civic groups and organizations step up to say they want to help, which is exceptional, especially with the city’s 13 parks, four recreation centers, three cemeteries, two swimming pools and ice arena.
Invest Elyria member Scott Ponczocha lives near Abbe Road Park and wanted to help make it better.
“There is so much we want to do there because we think it would be a really nice park,” he said. “We want to make it a good park again.”
To that end, Invest Elyria has been soliciting businesses for donations to help with the more expensive repairs and get some seating around the park. In return, a business would receive a plaque on its donated item.
Everyone is welcome to help with the cleanup or join Invest Elyria.
“We’re attempting to bring people together in the community and bring the community together to try to make Elyria a better place to raise a family,” said Dan Cunningham, a member of Invest Elyria. “Ultimately, we want to bring more business to Elyria so that those businesses will eventually hire more workers.”
If you go
- What: Invest Elyria Abbe Road Park Clean Up
- When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday
- Where: Abbe Road Park, 740 N. Abbe Road, Elyria
- Contact: Visit investelyria.com or search “Invest Elyria” on Facebook.
Contact Christina Jolliffe at 329-7155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.