Friday, April 21, 2017

New Fulton Library Reading Garden

By Johanna Hamm

For more than 20 years, the two commercial buildings located on the corner of Fulton Road and Arnold Court stood vacant, and eventually fell into disrepair and became an eyesore for many area residents. Despite their architectural significance, renovation for these structures was cost prohibitive and after several incidents of arson, they ultimately were slated for demolition. After the site was cleared, many area residents called our office to express their appreciation, however they also inquired about what will become of these two parcels.

After receiving numerous suggestions, and considering the needs of the community, our office decided to create a visually distinctive place that would add to the neighborhood’s identity and character. Working collaboratively with the Metro West Community Development Organization and the neighboring Cleveland Public Library Fulton Branch, we decided a “reading garden”, could be utilized by library patrons and residents alike. Moreover, this project would create a much-needed pocket park with many new trees and a place where anyone could come and rest, gather with others, and enjoy their community.

In 2014, working with Metro West CDC’s Green Space Manager, Sasha Ottoson-Deal, we were awarded a Neighborhood Placemaking Grant, one of only three projects selected throughout the city of Cleveland.  The Reading Garden project received $15,000 in Neighborhood Stabilization Program funding, which was primarily utilized for soil remediation, the installation of a brick pathway, and landscaping for the site. The benches and stamped concrete wall were generously donated by Terrace Construction and the park would also be chosen as a site for a squirrel sculpture, a 1930’s era re-production that is part of Councilman Cummins’ larger community-wide public art installation.

A special thank you goes out to a number of residents that helped with this project as well as to our partners at Court Community Service, all of whom contributed the work needed to see this project completed. In addition, the staff at Cleveland Public Library’s Fulton Branch have agreed to maintain the lot and treat it as a natural extension of our neighborhood Library.

Our office is proud to have helped envision and carry out this project, an effort which transforms a once forgotten space and will build community. The intention of the Neighborhood Placemaking Grant program was to fund projects that seek to create “great little places in our City’s neighborhood” and foster a better sense of community. We hope this little corner lot has done just that, and the next time you pass, we hope you will stop and pay a visit.

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