Spaces to Places

Transforming Public Spaces into Vibrant Places for the Community.

Turning an Eyesore into a Welcoming Kid-Friendly Place to Play

Written by Helen Miernicki, REALTOR®, Schuylkill County Board of REALTORS®

Lincoln Park is located in the borough of Frackville in Schuylkill County, PA.  It had fallen into a state of disrepair. The fencing was falling apart, wood on the site was disintegrating and the sliding board was damaged by a car running into it. In short, the park was an eyesore. The Schuylkill County Board of REALTORS® wanted to be part of a solution to turn things around.

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So, we reached out to Borough Council with hopes of rehabilitating the park, which is located next to the borough building, and to turning it back into the gathering place it once was. Our members believed that Lincoln Park could be a vibrant place for residents to visit, play, read and relax and the Borough agreed.

The Borough Council and REALTORS® collaborated on how to revitalize the park.  Funding was the first priority so we contacted NAR’s Community Outreach department staff to get the details of NAR’s Placemaking Micro-Grant. We applied for the grant, which was approved, and moved forward with the project. Our REALTOR® members volunteered to solicit community donations for tables and benches.

REALTORS®, including some from outside Schuylkill County, also volunteered to pitch in to help work on the park enhancement including painting and restoring the swing set and sliding board. There was nothing in it for them, but they just wanted to do something good.  The Board purchased a handicapped-accessible bongo set and a chess/checkers table.   A local boy scout volunteered to help build and paint a little free library.  And, over the past several months, borough workers installed new fencing and begun to landscape the area.

Children from a nearby camp watched as the REALTORS® worked to make the park more welcoming and some even asked if they could help paint. They all acknowledged the REALTORS®’® efforts and thanked them for giving them back a place to play. 

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Once the park was deemed safe and ready to go, children flooded the area, enjoying the new swings, reading books from the little free library and playing a game of checkers.  

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Our effort even earned us a spot in the local newspaper so now the whole community can be aware of the project and stop on by. 

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Former President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired, in value.

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As the National Park Service celebrates its 100-year anniversary this year, not all parks are natural wonders. Some parks are community gathering places located down the street from our homes. REALTORS® can, and are, doing their part in beautifying our parks for the “next generation.”

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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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Placemaking

Placemaking is a way to make your community a better place to live and work by transforming public spaces into vibrant community places.