PAINESVILLE, Ohio - Turning an open lot into the "State Street Park" is the next NewsChannel5 Building Better Neighborhood's project on Friday, Sept. 21, 2012.
Friday morning, volunteers working two sessions will help implement a design that includes picnic benches, fences, a walkway, rain gardens and more. It's all part of a blueprint for the park Painesville's own residents created.
"We did town hall meetings with the neighborhoods to ask them what they wanted to see in the parks," said Carrie Dotson, who is one of the volunteers who helped lay out the design.
She told NewsChannel5 the lot, located across from 355 S. State Street in Painesville, is one of three locations where elementary schools once stood.
The old elementary schools where torn down when new schools were built, which brought up the next question: what to do with the lots?
Lee Homyock, Painesville's Department of Recreation and Public Lands Director, said, "We knew we wanted to give them back to the community."
Homyock explained there's a need for more recreational space in the city. But to really find out how much of an issue the lack of space has become, NewsChannel5 spoke with random neighbors who all attested to the same.
"The biggest problem we run into is, there's nowhere for kids to go. During the after school hours or weekend hours, there's not a lot of parks," said John Bullis, Program Director of Painesville Salvation Army.
There is a large city park with ball fields and basketball courts, but George Vliete said it's mostly used by the high school and for organized sports. Vliete told NewsChannel5, there's really not much open space for kids to walk to and utilize.
The outcome, according to Vliete, is that kids dangerously playing in the streets and sometimes, territorial fights breaking out.
"Since my community is block watch, we watch for that kind of stuff there, making sure the cars slow down when they drive up and down these roads here... we're not getting a lot done," said Vliete.
Lakenda Tomblin, visiting her niece and nephew next door said, "The kids honestly need a place to go and play because a lot of kids now-a-days are getting into more trouble because there's nothing to do."
The city of Painesville selected the "State Street Park" for NewsChannel5's next Building Better Neighbors project.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., volunteers will be mulching, planting flowers, building picnic tables, installing gardens and installing benches, bringing the "State Street Park" design to life.
The events are being coordinated by the city of Painesville, the Western Reserve Community Development Corporation, and the United Way of Lake County. All three are volunteering time and materials. Other local organizations pitched in as well, donating plants and flowers. Papa Johns will be donating both lunch and dinner.
NewsChannel5's Danita Harris and Stephanie Ramirez will be in Painesville providing updates on the day long effort, which will air on NewsChannel5's noon, 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. broadcasts. Stephanie Ramirez will also be uploading to Facebook and Twitter throughout the day.
City employees will also be getting their hands dirty Friday. Lee Homyock, looking forward to the job, said, "With this park, people can get out and enjoy the fresh air. Kids can play, people will be working together. It really builds that sense of community."
City Manger Rita McMahon said, "This is an opportunity that provides about an acre of land that really gives a place for people to have active play, to run around, to have playgrounds -- stuff that they didn't have available to them in the past."
As a side project, volunteers will also help beautify some homes near the park.