ORA Revitalization Leverages Nearly $1 Million in Investment in Targeted Oswego Neighborhoods

OSWEGO – The Oswego Renaissance Association, a neighborhood revitalization organization in the city of Oswego, announced the completion of this year’s revitalization projects.

According to residents, the results are really starting to show.

“Several houses on the street have been repainted, even more have new landscaping,” said East Seventh Street homeowner Mark Greutman. “We are taking a greater pride in our homes, and all of us give that extra effort to keep our lawns mowed and looking nice. The park across the street has also been given a facelift with new mulch in the playground area, a new sign, and new planters.”

The ORA’s cornerstone grant, the “Renaissance Block Challenge Grant” reached its official deadline, October 30, 2015, with the ORA engaging more than 130 homes this year.

For the summer and fall, more than a dozen targeted Oswego neighborhoods participated in the program.

Groups of adjacent homes in each neighborhood were awarded dollar-for-dollar matching grants for home and neighborhood improvements.

Neighbors must organize and apply as a team.

This is the second year of the program, which employs a market-based strategy for revitalizing Oswego neighborhoods.

The program is sponsored by the Richard S. Shineman Foundation, Pathfinder Bank and Novelis with administrative and in-kind support from SUNY Oswego.

The city of Oswego has also assisted in many projects involved in revitalizing streets and parks.

In all, ORA matching grants amounting to $133,291 yielded a $412,844 in private investment, generating more than a half million dollars ($546,135) in housing projects in Oswego’s Target Neighborhoods for 2015.

When combined with last year’s grants, the total investment in Oswego’s participating neighborhoods exceeds $900,000 in the past 24 months.

ORA director Paul Stewart said that these figures are conservative, since they exclude “spillover” improvements where homeowners are inspired by neighborhood-wide improvements and perform additional work.

Greutman echoed similar sentiments, “When you see your neighbors painting their homes, making awesome renovations, or installing some landscaping, it is contagious. Suddenly you get the urge to follow suit and do the same to your home.”

But, according to Stewart, the money is only half the story.

The real value is the psychological and cultural shift, and the strengthening social fabric, which he believes is the glue underlying the approach.

“Neighbors become really invested as a community,” he said. “Most of the Oswego residents we work with tell me this is the best part of the revitalization of Oswego.”

Longtime Oswego resident Chris Jones, who lives near Fitzhugh Park School, agrees.

“We are changing the community of Oswego one neighborhood at a time. Our neighborhood now has the feeling of a small community. Neighbors stop by and visit other neighbors, everyone lends a helping hand or at the least offers a helping hand,” he said.

The ORA wants to thank the Richard Shineman Foundation, Pathfinder Bank, Novelis, SUNY Oswego and the city of Oswego for financial and in-kind support; and the more than 50 Novelis employees who donated their time and talents on two major projects.

The ORA wants to thank and publicly acknowledge the volunteer team of Oswego homeowners, the original resident leaders who, along with the ORA’s founders Stewart and Steven Phillips, founded the ORA back in 2013; Casey Towne, Rob Way, Eric VanBuren, Karen Doten, Catharine Early and Susan Sweet.

The ORA would like to thank and publicly acknowledge this year’s block leaders who organized and recruited their neighbors.

This year’s block leaders were; Laurie Mangano, Ted Jerrett, Jones, Bill Mercier, Diane Enwright, Connie Ross, Early, Hedi Spraugue, Donald Morley, Heather Livingstone, Kelly Mosher, Lorrie Molinari, Deborah Deeb, Kerri Webb, Lou Anne Coleman, Cathy Izyk and Margaret Waters-Poor.

Find additional information about the Oswego Renaissance Association, what grants are available and how to apply for them, at  www.OswegoNYonline.com

Like the ORA on FaceBook.