Spaces to Places

Transforming Public Spaces into Vibrant Places for the Community.

REALTORS® Park — It Took a Village

Written by Dale Meller, Association Executive, Beaver Creek Area Association of REALTORS®

In the Fall of 2019, I approached Lisbon, Ohio Mayor Roger Gallo to present a copy of "On Common Ground" and discuss how the Beaver Creek Area Association of REALTORS® (BCAAR) might serve the community. Not long after that visit, Village Councilman (and now Mayor) Peter Wilson contacted me to follow up. Wilson explained that the village owned under-utilized land near the trailhead of the Greenway Trail that might be put to better use. The Trail is a pedestrian and bike trail currently running 12.5 miles from Lisbon to Washingtonville and attracts 200,000 hikers, runners, and cyclists each year. We discussed some rough ideas for a placemaking project on this property and decided to create a pocket park as a gathering place for village residents, visitors and users of the trail.

Although BCAAR's members serve the area where the Trail is located, it falls under the jurisdiction of the Youngstown Columbiana Association of REALTORS® (YCAR). I contacted YCAR CEO Julie Larson to discuss the project and to see if our association could apply for NAR's Placemaking Grant to help fund the project (note NAR's Territorial Jurisdiction policy). YCAR not only gave permission to proceed, but also agreed to be a partner in the project. This partnership would provide more volunteers and potential additional funding.

BCAAR and YCAR formed a joint committee to work on the project. The committee included representatives from the village council, the Lisbon Area Chamber of Commerce, and members of BCAAR and YCAR. Early on, the committee decided the pocket park would be named REALTORS® Park. Both BCAAR and YCAR, and the Chamber of Commerce, represented by Susan Shank, agreed to contribute $500 to the project.

YCAR CEO Larson found an Eagle Scout candidate, John Cagnina, who wanted to pitch in on the project. Not only did John encourage the Ohio Rotary Club to donate $1,000 to the project, he also agreed to design and oversee construction of part of the project. The village lent a hand by having village employees, who worked for the street department, perform some site preparation and grading. The Columbiana County Career and Technical Center agreed to build a sign for the site if we could purchase the materials. The project was off to a good start with an engaged committee and a budget of $7,500.

The County Fairgrounds provided a space in an unheated building for us to use in the Winter of 2019 to pre-cut the wood that would be used to build pergolas and benches for the park. Volunteers worked in 20° temperatures to do this work. Meanwhile, the site preparation was completed and contractors were engaged to provide concrete and the finishing work for a 20 by 20-foot pad where the pergolas and benches would be installed. The pad would feature one pergola at each corner.

REALTORS® Park, wood cutting

Photo courtesy of the Beaver Creek Area Association of REALTORS®

Foundation for REALTORS® Park

Photo courtesy of the Beaver Creek Area Association of REALTORS®

One pergola was constructed in early 2020, and then the coronavirus hit and everything came to a halt.

Work on the project resumed in the Summer of 2021. The remaining pergolas and benches were built, landscaping materials were purchased, and volunteers spread topsoil, mulch, and rock, and planted shrubs, trees, flowers, and grass. The final touch will be completion of a large sign which welcomes people to REALTORS® Park, credits the financial contributors and the volunteer associations, and provides a map of the village so that visitors can find where the local businesses and restaurants are located.

REALTORS® Park

Lisbon, Ohio

Made possible by Grants from

Beaver Creek Area Association of REALTORS®

Youngstown Columbiana Association of REALTORS®

Lisbon Chamber of Commerce

Boardman Rotary Club

and

Through the voluntary efforts of REALTORS® and community members

Pergola Design: Eagle Scout Candidate John Cagnina

Mayor Peter Wilson

Soon REALTORS® Park will be dedicated and residents, visitors, and trail users will have a great place to meet up and relax. All thanks to our village of partners.

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Community Outreach Programs

Housing Opportunity Grant
Housing Opportunity Grants support state and local REALTOR® Associations’ affordable housing activities. The goal of the program is to position REALTORS® as leaders in improving their communities by creating affordable housing
opportunities.

Smart Growth Grant
Smart growth is an approach to development that encourages a mix of building types and uses, diverse housing and transportation options, development within existing neighborhoods, and community engagement. The Smart Growth Program offers state and local REALTOR® Associations to way to engage with government officials, community partners and the general public in planning and designing community’s future.

Diversity
Planned diversity initiatives makes good business sense. REALTOR® Associations with well-planned diversity programs create a stronger sense of community, particularly in neighborhoods with high concentrations of foreign-born and minority residents who are moving up the socioeconomic ladder and are buying homes.

NAR Placemaking Resources

Placemaking Guide: A Guide to Transform a Public Space into a Community Place
REALTORS® and state and local association staff can learn the details of Placemaking, the kinds of projects placemaking entails, how to organize them, and where to go for assistance and resources.

Placemaking Webinar Series
Our Placemaking Webinar Series will provide more in depth information on the various types of Placemaking and how REALTORS® were involved in Placemaking activities in their communities.

Placemaking Grant
The Placemaking Grant funds the creation of new public spaces, like pocket parks, trails & gardens, in a community. The grant focuses on “lighter, cheaper, quicker” placemaking projects, which can be built under a year and cost less  than $200,000.

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