Meet the Group Repopulating Warren, Ohio's Vacant Land — With Wildflowers

Warren-based volunteer group gregg’s gardens (www.greggsgardens.org) announced today that we have received $10,000 in funding from the Trumbull 100 (www.trumbull100.org ) – the largest singular gift we have received to date.

Gregg’s gardens are named for the late Gregg Snyder, a lifelong Warren resident who was tragically killed in a 2011 bicycling accident. It is a land re-use strategy that seeks to convert derelict post-demolition residential lots into native plant and wildflower gardens. It is a passive land re-use tool meant to complement other strategies for repurposing the glut of vacant lots in Warren, including residential yard expansion as well as gardens and food production sites.

In 2012 gregg’s gardens converted 22 vacant lots in Warren to wildflower and native plant gardens, also with the support of the Trumbull 100 as well as other local donors, including substantial individual and grassroots support from a large number of current and former residents.

The goal for 2013 is to convert more than 100 gardens in a 22 square block neighborhood in the center of the city bordered by Atlantic Street on the north, Elm Road on the east, High Street on the south and Park Avenue on the west. The proposed “Garden District” now contains nearly 90 vacant lots and an additional 60+ houses in the neighborhood are likely to be demolished by the city this year, including all boarded-up and fire-damaged dwellings.

After a significant number of demolitions slated for 2013 through funding from the Ohio Attorney Generals Moving Ohio Forward program, the Garden District will contain more than 500 occupied houses in good condition, surrounded by more than 100 wildflower gardens. Residents of the neighborhood can easily walk to downtown, the Amphitheater or Warren G. Harding High School.

“This is Warren’s oldest residential neighborhood and one we really want to save. City government can do just so much, but fortunately we are blessed to have organizations here such as the Trumbull 100 and gregg’s gardens that think and act both strategically and creatively.” says Warren Mayor Doug Franklin.

Trumbull 100 President Diane Sauer says, “Our goal is to facilitate opportunities and provide leadership for projects that enhance the quality of life in Trumbull County, and this project will certainly do that. It will turn a currently run-down neighborhood into a desirable place to live, and a strengthened center city will boost downtown Warren, as well.”

Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership, a Warren Community Development Organization (www.tnpwarren.org), serves as both the fiscal agent and the operations arm for gregg’s gardens; both organizations receive funding from the Raymond John Wean Foundation.

“Creating the Garden District is the first step in what we view as a long-term community development initiative in the central city. We will continue to work with the Trumbull County Land Reutilization Corporation (Land Bank) to strategically identify and make salvageable vacant structures in the district for rehabilitation, and we are now pursuing creative financing and partnerships to pursue home ownership in our city’s oldest neighborhood. We will also continue to pursue other land reclamation tools including yard expansion for existing residents and the continued development and support of local food production sites. The gregg’s gardens strategy complements our overall effort and elevates the quality of life throughout this area. The Garden District currently contains over 100 vacant abandoned houses, and while significant demolition is inevitable and needed, there are a large number of redemptive properties, many of which have tremendous architectural upside” Says Matt Martin, TNP’s Program Director.

“We view the creation of a Garden District as an economic development project and a real-world example of how local government, non-profit, business, private citizens and volunteers can work together effectively towards community revitalization.”
-Dennis Blank, gregg’s gardens.

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