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Pilot program gives kids safe place to play

Kids from Treyer Street and Greeley Street took part in a new program to give children and families a safe place to be active and have fun. (photo provided)
Kids from Treyer Street and Greeley Street took part in a new program to give children and families a safe place to be active and have fun. (Photo provided)

Fewer than 15 percent of kids in Greater Rochester and the Finger Lakes are active an hour or more a day, the amount recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So for the second consecutive summer, local organizations teamed to provide a space for children and families to play, contribute to children’s physical and social-emotional development and support community development.

Play Streets is a community-driven program that emphasizes the importance of play. The event was hosted by Healthi Kids Coalition and Ibero-American Development Corp., and was coordinated by FLRT Block Club and Beechwood Neighbors Association.

Residents at Treyer Street and Greeley Street hosted Play Streets throughout August. Both neighborhoods were shut down for a few hours a day and featured active games, dancing, art, summer meals, skateboarding demonstrations, playful sidewalk painting and more.

“One of the biggest obstacles Rochester children face when playing is safety hazards, whether it be from traffic, distracted drivers or other unsafe activities,” said Joe DiFiore of the Beechwood Neighborhood Coalition. “Thanks to the Healthi Kids Coalition and its amazing collaboration with city residents, we’re able to overcome these obstacles and give our kids the chance to get outside and play. To see these kids smile and have fun is all the proof we need to know we’re making a difference.”

A 2017 report from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation and Rochester Area Community Foundation noted that interviews with neighbors have indicated that a lack of neighborhood and traffic safety are key barriers to play. Healthi Kids’ early studies on playability indicated that 97 percent of play spaces do not have traffic calming features such as speed bumps, traffic lights or signage.

“A lot still needs to happen here in Rochester to give our children access to safe play spaces, but if our work in the community has taught us anything, it’s that residents are ready to work together and make it happen,” said Dina Faticone, director of community health and engagement at Common Ground Health. “Because of the efforts of the FLRT Block Club and Beechwood Neighborhood Coalition, we are currently working alongside the City of Rochester to expand this Play Streets pilot across the city to ensure all kids have opportunities to play right in their own neighborhood.”

Funding for the Play Streets pilot was made possible by the Greater Rochester Health Foundation and the Wilson Foundation “El Camino Plays” grant.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

Four affordable homes coming to Beechwood neighborhood

The city's Beechwood neighborhood, seen here, will benefit from a $500,000 investment in new, affordable homes. (Photo provided)
The city’s Beechwood neighborhood, seen here, will benefit from a $500,000 investment in new, affordable homes. (Photo provided)

A $500,000 investment by Rochester Housing Charities Inc. will bring four new affordable homes to  Rochester’s Beechwood neighborhood.

The recently completed first home, at 16 Diamond Place, is a single story, two-bedroom home built on a 40-foot lot. The four properties, all on Diamond Place, were designed by Pardi Partnership Architects. Construction on the remaining properties is expected to be complete by the end of this year.

“We built these beautiful new homes with the goal of raising the standard of living for working families and to create stronger communities around them that can be successful long-term,” said RHC Chairman Reece McKenzie. “These four homes are really more than that—they’re the launching pad to a positive domino effect across the Beechwood community.”

The project began in 2016 when the city put out a request for proposal to develop the four parcels, which had been vacant for nearly five years after the abandoned properties on those sites were demolished. Last year, RHC was awarded the work and began the process of transforming Diamond Place.

“Affordable and safe homes are a fundamental building block in helping families and communities reach their full potential,” Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said. “These new homes, built by Rochester Housing Charities, represent an important investment in this neighborhood and in its people.”

The small, affordable homes are designed to attract first-time homebuyers, officials said. The first homeowner to move into the new development is Lorretta Cross, a Beechwood resident and community advocate. RHC on Friday dedicated “Pee-Wee’s Garden” at the property in honor of her 2-year-old grandson who died after being hit by a car while chasing a ball in 2016.

“This is a meaningful milestone for the Beechwood neighborhood, which is seeing its first new construction build since 2002,” said Rochester Housing Authority Chairman George Moses and Vice Chairman John Page on Friday. “We made a promise to this community to finish this challenge street and make it a true neighborhood, full of homes and not empty, abandoned lots, and (we are) excited to stand here today with all those involved in helping to make that promise a reality.”

RHC is a local nonprofit that was formed in 2012 as an affiliate of the Rochester Housing Authority. Its goal is to support the mission of affordable housing and services to the elderly and disabled families including young children.

RHA, established in 1955, serves more than 25,000 lower-income families, seniors and disabled residents and program participants annually in the Greater Rochester region. Twenty percent of those individuals reside in the more than 2,400 RHA public housing units.

“We’re turning dead end streets into new beginnings,” Moses said at Friday’s event.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer