Acknowledging the need for neighborhood redevelopment to be holistic and comprehensive, BBC has been active in the creation of greenspace in the Central and Kinsman neighborhoods. The intent has been to provide residents and stakeholders with spaces for recreation and community gathering, as well as to enhance the overall appeal, beauty, and desirability of the community.
To this end, greenspace was a critical component of the plan for the Villages of Central. Two parks were established in St. John’s Village West, the target area within the Villages of Central located between Cedar and Central Avenues, East 36th and 40th Streets. Grant Park on East 38th Street a few blocks north of Central Avenue offers opportunities for active enjoyment, with a spray basin, a playground, swings, a large grassy open area, and game tables.
Situated at the northwest corner of Central Avenue and East 40th Street, St. John’s Square Reading Garden was designed and built in partnership with the Ohio-based Troy-Bilt company. The Reading Garden allows for residents to relax and open a book in a serene setting. Students from Carl & Louis Stokes Central Academy across of East 40th Street oftentimes visit the greenspace to read and learn about topics such as nature and the environment. BBC’s Active Neighbors for Healthy Neighborhoods utilized the Reading Garden for group exercise, cooking demonstrations, active video games, and more on a weekly basis during Summer 2011.
In 2010, over three hundred volunteers descended upon East 73rd Street to construct an $80,000 KaBOOM! playground. The new playground provides recreation opportunities to more than seven hundred children every year and their families in the Central neighborhood and surrounding communities and affords them with a safe place to play. This is on the exact same street at which, less than a decade ago, parents would not think twice about not allowing their kids to play outside. Seeing how a playground can be a positive catalyst for a community, BBC is exploring other potential sites at which a KaBOOM! playground may be established.
BBC has also been active in transforming vacant land in the Urban Agriculture Innovation Zone into places where food can be grow and raised. When completed, the Urban Agriculture Innovation Zone will return twenty-six acres of land to a productive use and become the largest urban agriculture district in the United States.
BBC staff has also provided assistance to neighborhood groups seeking to start community gardens and other vacant land reutilization through programs such as the Ohio State University Extension, Steps to a Healthier Cleveland, and Reimagining a More Sustainable Cleveland and individuals seeking ownership of City of Cleveland Landbank land adjacent to their homes for yard expansion.