Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Old Oak Cliff Conservation League’s grant program improves existing communities
The grants come from money raised each year by the League’s Oak Cliff Fall Tour of Homes.
In the world of construction, one way to stay green is through conservation of existing structures and various neighborhood enhancements. Just as reduction and reuse of everyday items can be beneficial to eco-minded efforts, reducing the energy requirements of new home construction, reusing our existing housing stock, and improving existing communities when possible can help our neighborhoods not only to be more green but to preserve vital character with great potential to improve quality of life.
It's exactly this line of work that keeps the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League (OOCCL) busy. The organization not only maintains Oak Cliff Historic Preservation projects, but also hands out grants each year like those awarded this past week in conjunction with the OOCCL mission statement “Providing grants to enable member neighborhoods to complete projects of permanence that contribute to the quality of life in Oak Cliff.”
According to Sherry Peel, the OOCCL member heading up the grant program for the league, $16,475 in grants were awarded at the 2012 Grant Awards to Oak Cliff Neighborhoods at the June general quarterly meeting held last week.
The grants, which are supplemental according to Peel, are with OOCCL giving 60% and the participating neighborhood 40%.
The proposed contributions from the neighborhoods to support the grants came in at $15,122 for 2012 totaling neighborhood improvements for this year at roughly $31,596.
“Over $30,000 in Oak Cliff neighborhood improvements and enhancements will be realized due to the OOCCL Supplemental Neighborhood Grant Awards,” Peel says, “with over one-third of the member neighborhoods participating.”
Proceeds for the Grant Award program come from the OOCCL Home Tour in the year prior. In 2011, $14,419 was awarded including a diverse outline of projects in that roundup.
- Kessler Plaza - $810 - neighborhood communication letter and safety signs
- Beckley Club Estates - $678 - neighborhood website, Crime Watch hotline voice mail, and Crime Watch signs
- Kidd Springs - $486 - Constable patrol for July 4th and New Year's Eve; neighborhood communication letters
- Beverly Hills - $544 - Crime Watch banners; police patrol for 4th of July and New Year's Eve; flyers for neighborhood communication
- West Kessler - $1740 - revision of green space for the island on the cul-de-sac of Stevens Woods Court; electricity and stone setting and cleaning of flower beds
- Wynnewood North - $1848 - complete street sign topper project, event notification signage, and funds for VIP patrol car
- Kings Highway Conservation District - $3685 - North Polk Street Corridor Project - Phase One: irrigation and landscape improvements to public right of way median located at Polk Street and Turner Avenue
- Stevens Park Village - $1328 - tree trimming in the common spaces (Walter and Barberry, Leander and Barberrys, Stevens Crest street closure)
- Hampton Hills - $500 - purchase of solar powered lights for alleys to deter crime
- Lake Cliff Neighborhood - $2800 - fabrication and installation of 42 sign toppers for Lake Cliff Historic District
“The grants are offered to [all] OOCCL member neighborhoods, of which there are 31, who would like to apply. It is the hope that they will permanently improve and enhance the quality of life in our communities,” Peel says.
In order to receive the grant money, the neighborhoods must first apply, and then the Grant Approval Committee decides on the awards, which are given out once a year at the June OOCCL quarterly meeting.
The examples of eligible projects include sign toppers, park benches, park pathways, security cameras, pocket park beautification items, crime watch signs, landscape improvements, lighting, median improvements, restoration of neighborhood historic features, and monument signs.
“We look at all of the above as well as any neighborhood association members who also volunteer and serve the OOCCL,” says Peel.
Since the grants come from money raised each year by the league’s Oak Cliff Fall Tour of Homes, the next question was exactly how long the Tour of Homes and the grant program has been going on in the area.
Lybo Buchanan, archivist for the league, says he know it's been a long time.
“My list of homes for our Home Tour begin in 1983,” he says “but that may not be the first year. The league itself began in 1974 by Mary Grifith & Ruth Chenoweth.”
Past League President Michael Amonett says he believes he was told at one time that the first tours dated all the way back to the league's beginnings and was a city-wide affair in conjunction with Old East Dallas.
“Called Pioneer tours or Urban Pioneer, [they] included not only homes that were completely renovated, but those also in various stages of construction so as to give people an idea of what they were in for with purchasing and remodeling an old home,” he says.
Philip Leven, the current league president, adds of the Home Tours and grant program that “the tour goes back as Lybo says, but I honestly have no idea when the grant program started. At one time we calculated that we had returned $75,000 to the community over the years that we know of.”
Leftover grant money is also used wisely, with Peel giving one example of the OOCCL Board of Directors voting to grant TeCo's Bishop Arts Theater $4101.68 towards the purchase of a marquee for their space on 215 S. Tyler in the old Bluebird Theater. This amount represented 60% of the total $6836.14 that needed and $2,400 had already been raised.
“The league is excited to inject money into this local arts venue and creative outlet as well as make a lasting investment in the Tyler/Jefferson area,” Peel concludes. “It is our hope that the excitement happening at TeCo spreads further along Tyler and even spills out onto Jefferson where many unique and historic structures still await someone's love and attention like TeCo has given this old theater.”
Pegasus News Content partner - Green Source DFW
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