ELYRIA — Roughly 12 years ago, Greg Taylor lived on Gates Avenue with his family, visiting with friends and riding his bike up and down the south-side neighborhood street.
On Friday, he returned to the street he once called home and did his best to restore it to the area he once knew. Taylor, 28, now the operations manager of Southwest Landscape Management, came back to the neighborhood to volunteer with three of his employees for the “Building Better Neighborhood” project sponsored by WEWS NewsChannel 5 in connection with the city, Building Industries Association, the Boys & Girls Clubs, Church of the Open Door and 100 Black Men of Lorain County.
Taylor wheeled a barrel full of dark mulch to a home and spread it across a raised flowerbed he had built earlier in the front lawn. It transformed the front of the home and was completed with donated plants and flowers.
“I drove down here Thursday night before all the work, and couldn’t believe what I saw. It really went down,” Taylor said. “It’s a lot different than what I remember, and that is why I came out to help. I used to live here and I just want to see the neighborhood brought back.”
Gates Avenue and South Maple Street, the two streets chosen for the one-day remake, are home to many residents who were happy to see someone take an interest in their neighborhoods. Beyond constantly being prime examples of blight in the city, residents said the streets are a part of Elyria that should not be ignored.
“I think it’s wonderful that Channel 5 and the city got together to do this,” said 66-year-old Delores Hersh of South Maple Street. “It’s just me, and financially I’m not able to do a lot.”
Volunteers were busy cutting dangling tree branches from the front of Hersh’s house as well as painting her front porch. She eyed the work with a broad smile on her face. She has lived in the house for 20 years, but said in recent years doing outside work has become more difficult.
Councilman Marcus Madison, D-5th Ward, said he has many residents like Hersh in his ward — those who take pride in where they live but need just a little bit of help.
“Today was about getting people involved in a way we have never tried before in an effort to make the community look better,” he said. “For our business community and volunteers, we thank them for our time. We were able to accomplish a lot because we all worked together.”
In total, work from minor porch and roof repairs to landscaping and trash removal was done at 14 different homes on two different streets. The owner of the home only had to sign off on allowing the volunteer crews to be on the property, which could be owner-occupied or rental homes.
“We live here, and we want the neighborhood to look nice,” said 55-year-old John Fath, who moved to Gates in January. “For the residents like me who live here, we thank everyone for their work. Before today you couldn’t walk down the street without running into tree branches from overgrown trees. A child couldn’t even ride their bike down the street.”
Mayor Holly Brinda said she would like to see the event continue as an annual tradition even when WEWS moves on to other neighborhoods.
“It’s just two streets, but it’s about setting a precedent,” she said.
Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or email@example.com.
Click any image to view larger.