Recap of April 19 PARC Meeting

This month’s Park Avenue Revitalization Committee (PARC) meeting was held April 19, 2011 at 6:30pm.  Both Larry Wagemaker and I attended.  (PARC meetings are held on the third Tuesday of each month at the boardroom of Kirkhaven Nursing Home 254 Alexander St. ANY resident in the area is welcomed to attend.)

The following is a recap of the agenda:

Ellen Brenner, Park Avenue neighbor and one of the owners of Fleet Feet on Monroe, attended the meeting to remind everyone to get out and cheer for the runners this Sunday, May 1.  They will be running through various neighborhoods along the route.  There will be a contest for the most spirited neighborhood, so let’s get out and cheer. (Those of you who run know how helpful it is to see people out cheering for you as you make your way through the race.   No cigarettes or donuts, please.)

  • Turning Right on Brunswick from East Avenue:  Around mile 4.5, the runners will turn right on Brunswick from East then turn right on Park Ave. The fastest runners will probably be there around 7:50am, with runners passing through until about 9am.  2200 runners are currently registered.  You don’t even have to get out of your jammies to cheer them on.  Let’s show them our spirit!  13.1 miles is a long way.

Jimmy Catalano (PARC secretary) and Elaine Spaull (city council representative) requested that we set up a Park Central neighborhood meeting to discuss any grievances some neighbors still have with the store at the corner of Brunswick and Park.  Jimmy, Elaine and Cindy Geller (Park Avenue Merchants’ Association president) will attend the meeting, as well.  Those grievances and concerns will be presented to the owners of the store in written form.  The owners have expressed a strong desire to work with the neighborhood, so Jimmy and Elaine believe this is the best next step.  I will be sending two proposed dates for a meeting soon, so we can decide what works best for those who want to participate.

We don’t have any further information on when the meeting with the developer will be held (Peter Siegrist, the city zoning official assigned to the application, has been out of the office).  The neighborhood should definitely get involved from the very beginning on this one to assure any concerns are addressed.  From what I could tell around the table, no one is against development; they just want to make sure it is the right kind of development.  Many have concerns that a 48 unit apartment building will bring down rents in the neighborhood and cause parking issues.  I will keep you all in the loop as soon as we are notified by the city about the meeting.

Jimmy, Elaine and Cindy met a couple weeks ago to discuss strengthening the Park Avenue neighborhood.  Given the recent application to develop the parcel of land at the end of Argyle/Park and concerns raised the past few years over zoning and other neighborhood issues, they believe it is time for the Park Avenue neighborhood to become more proactive.  Elaine would like to work with the city to educate commercial  landlords to ensure that their potential renters know the requirements for business permits and any other related necessary approval steps.  She wants to push landlords of derelict properties to take care of them (for example, the rundown nature of the Talmudic Institute at the corner of Park/Brunswick).  Jimmy will be meeting with the police again to continue diligence around bottle/can collectors who carry their carts through our neighborhoods.  They both noted the activism in the South Wedge and Mt. Hope neighborhoods and would like to see Park Ave regain the activism it once had to assure our neighborhood remains a strong, safe and vibrant neighborhood that people want to visit and live in.

The property that currently houses Wilson Farms and Cobbs Hill pizza is filling its vacant space! Most of you already know about the HairZoo.  Golden Tans will relocate to the building soon too.  A new clothing and accessories store, Wearhouse, will be opening there soon.  And a gym (we don’t know which one) will also be moving into the back of the building where the old stock and delivery areas for the Rite Aid were.

NEIGHBORHOOD ELECTRICAL BOXES BEING PAINTED: Through a grant and other funds collected, PARC has $3,000 to paint the various electrical boxes in the neighborhood. The Southeast Area Coalition (SEAC) is currently accepting proposals from local artists interested in having their work grace the boxes.  If you know anyone who is interested, have them contact SEAC for RFP information.

The Park-Meigs NA beautification project with the greenspace along Park Ave will be starting soon.  They are currently discussing fence design and are meeting with the historic preservation board on May 4th.

The Park Avenue Merchants’ Association (PAMA) donated hanging baskets for the intersections along the Park Ave retail areas (the old ones wouldn’t retain water and left the flowers crumbly and dry).  Once it’s warm enough, you’ll be seeing some lovely flowers gracing the neighborhood.

4 Responses

  1. Michael Brown April 27, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

    Hi Renee!

    Thanks for this detailed report.

    My first reaction to the news of a 48-unit apartment building on Park across from Argyle is one of concern. With some units occupied by two (or more) people, this could bring upwards of 70 new inhabitants (and their parked cars) to that space. How will that transform the traffic patterns and noise level on the block?

    In terms of a larger community development perspective, wouldn’t it be better to see apartments built (and those that are newly built filled) in the Cascades district, High Falls, and other downtown-proximate areas where new residents can bring an infusion of needed pedestrian and commercial traffic?

    Obviously, all conclusions at this stage are not, well, conclusions. Without seeing any architectural plans, I have very little idea what kind of footprint this new building will create.

  2. Jim Quinn April 27, 2011 at 11:30 pm #

    I think we need a mix of apartment buildings, multi-family houses and single family homes to provide the density necessary to support the service businesses, retail and restaurants that make the neighborhood such an enjoyable place to live.

    Having said that, there’s already a multistory eyesore next door to the proposed site. I’m disappointed that in the 35 + years since the Park Ave Hospital moved, no one has tried a first class reuse of the existing building. Does anyone know why that has never happened? I could speculate about the condition of the place or the kinds of remediation that might be needed, but in reality I haven’t a clue.

    • Dick Dillon May 4, 2011 at 9:26 pm #

      There are a number of reasons, but as I recall we could never get beyond the cost of demolition-the structure is very well built and it has a certain amount of asbestos which would need special handling in advance of demolition.. The current structure is very cut up, but it would be difficult to open it up for another use because of the type of construction. The other issue is that the Talmudic Institute would need a new home and they like it here like we do..

  3. Renee May 4, 2011 at 9:34 pm #

    I think simply getting the Talmudic Institute to take better care of the property would help that corner a lot.

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