The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

March 30, 2014

Two groups work to improve Ashtabula neighborhoods

By WARREN DILLAWAY - warren@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

ASHTABULA — Brooms, garbage bags and rakes were the tools of the trade for two area groups seeking to improve city neighborhoods.

Early Saturday morning a group of volunteers began sweeping and cleaning the sidewalks along Route 20 between Lake and West avenues in an attempt to improve the neighborhood.

The G.O. Community Development Corporation sponsored the clean-up operation, said group vice president Drew Thomas.

The group has designated the area surrounding the GOCDC property between Route 20 and West 32nd Street and Lake and West avenues as a 1.78 square mile “Circle of Faith,” he said.

Thomas said the organization hopes to partner with local and federal government, community leaders and volunteers to tear down 40 vacant homes in the area. He said he hopes to expand the operation by getting more people on board.

Vincent E. Harris Jr., of Ashtabula, said he came to help improve the city by improving the appearance of the Route 20 area.

“Volunteerism can be offered in many different ways,” Thomas said.

A second group gathered at West 58th Street Park to clean up the community early on Saturday afternoon.

My Neighborhood formed in late summer of 2011 as a collaborative effort between Community Action, St. Peter’s Church, Catholic Charities and Imagine Ashtabula/ADDA.

The group has been sponsoring regular neighborhood improvement projects and creating family social events as well.

Approximately 20 people gathered at the park to fan out through a five-block radius to pick up garbage and compost materials along the street.

“Our plan is to literally comb the streets north to St. Peter’s Church,” said group president Jeff Scribben while speaking to the volunteers.

He instructed participants to put garbage in yellow bags and compost materials in brown bags to be picked up by a truck following the brigade of citizens.