Garden District, others work to revitalize neighborhood

Jerry O'Hara, president of the Garden District Neighborhood Association, said the effort to revitalize the West side neighborhood has received help from the Mill Creek MetroParks and the Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative. (Christopher Kochera/TheNewsOutlet.org)

Aired February 20, 2013 on WYSU

The Garden District Neighborhood, nestled in Youngstown’s West side, is experiencing a resurgence thanks to the cooperation of several organizations. The News Outlet’s Christopher Kochera has the story.

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Jerry O’Hara, president of the Garden District Neighborhood Association, said the effort to revitalize the West side neighborhood has received help from the Mill Creek MetroParks and the Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative. (Christopher Kochera/TheNewsOutlet.org)

Motorists on Mahoning Avenue might notice green street signs marking the West side neighborhood known as the Garden District. What they won’t notice are the countless hours and cooperation of several area organizations, including Mill Creek MetroParks and the Garden District Neighborhood Association.

Our main goal is the safety and the upkeep and the concern of the neighborhood.

That’s Jerry O’Hara, president of the Garden District Neighborhood Association.

Formed in 2011, the organization’s goal is to eliminate blight, reduce crime and preserve the quality of life for neighborhood residents. It receives money from various grants and fundraisers. The signs, for example, were purchased with funds obtained by Fourth Ward Councilman Mike Ray.

“Each councilperson has a certain amount of discretionary funds every year so we’ve used discretionary funds on signage, marking the entrances to the Garden District, one on Mahoning Avenue in front of Jenkins Signs and then one on Belle Vista near the park entrance.”

Constructed in the 1930s, the neighborhood stretches west from Fellows Riverside Gardens to South Belle Vista Avenue. From there, it extends south to McCollum Road. The houses – a mixture of Foursquare, Victorian, Cape Cod and Ranch styles – are as diverse as the families that live in them.

O’Hara says Mill Creek MetroParks has taken a special interest in the Garden District.

They just do things for the neighborhood, they’re more or less working hand-in-hand with us trying to generalize and keep this area down here nice.

Keith Kaiser, director of horticulture at Mill Creek MetroParks, says the condition of the neighborhood surrounding the park is very important.

 It’s our neighborhood, it’s out front door so we want to help them along.

The Garden District Neighborhood Association, about 80 residents strong, meets monthly from March to December. O’Hara said the group plans to continue their efforts to make the Garden District a great place to call home.

It’s one of the safer areas in the city, it’s close to public transportation, within walking distance of Mill Creek Park.

Reporting for TheNewsOutlet.org, I’m Christopher Kochera.