Rebuilding the Waverly Playground

May 5, 2009

The Waverly Playground at the YMCA burned down late last year, after three years of great fun. The community immediately rallied to rebuild it; in fact, I just got back from a shift with hundreds of other volunteers digging holes, cutting beams and installing posts. There is a lot of clay in the ground – wow!

City Council Rep. Mary Pat Clarke was there to show support, as she’s been instrumental in organizing the rebuild, and Mayor Sheila Dixon stopped by to give a speech, and dig a few holes herself. I had a chance to speak with them both for a few moments. Mary Pat helped coordinate the original dollar homes program, and had a few more pieces of information about how that was run.

Both Federal Hill and Otterbein were classified as historic districts, so there were a number of architectural requirements that were necessary for any renovation to be approved. The key element was that the city didn’t transfer the title to the purchaser until the home has been inspected and approved. That guaranteed that houses wouldn’t be sat on by speculative investors waiting on appreciation; the purchaser didn’t actually own the house until is was proven livable. Pretty smart, Mary Pat! 

Mayor Dixon was also eager to discuss the plan tomorrow night. As many people have expressed, she is concerned about speculators and slumlords, as she noted that some houses that were sold by the city to private citizens are still a source of trouble in our neighborhoods. Ensuring that adequate time and/or capital is invested in dollar home properties will be key to success.

All in all, a very encouraging day! The City is just as concerned and optimistic as we are, so I’m sure we’re heading down the right path already. Please come make your voice heard tomorrow evening!

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