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Bengals, Boy Scouts announce big plans for Avondale

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Sponsors of community improvement projects in Avondale pose with South Avondale Elementary School students Tuesday for an accounting of the Avondale Neighborhood Enrichment Program. Check replication boards show the hundreds of thousands of dollars the city and local institutions and organizations are investing in Avondale as a result of the program. Photo by Casey Weldon

By Casey Weldon

Herald Contributor

The City of Cincinnati joined various community stakeholders in Avondale on Tuesday at South Avondale Elementary School to celebrate the conclusion of the longest Neighborhood Enhancement Program (NEP) to date and announce a handful of signature projects that will leave a lasting mark on generations of young people in the community.

Since a team of city employees, police officers and community stakeholders began the NEP effort in Avondale in March, shootings and violent crime in the neighborhood have dropped significantly, while nearly $700,000 has been invested to improve blighted properties.

NEP’s impact in Avondale is continuing. The Cincinnati Bengals will use a $250,000 NFL grant to install new synthetic turf on the football playing field at South Avondale Elementary School. Additionally, the Dan Beard Council will fully fund the first-ever urban Boy Scout Troop in Avondale during the next three years.

Also, Give Back Cincinnati’s annual “Paint the Town” event will be held in Avondale next year. Paint the Town is a community service event in which volunteers work within a targeted neighborhood to paint owner-occupied homes for those physically or financially unable to do the work themselves.

“So many citizens worked for eight months to make Avondale better for all,” said Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman. “We look forward to the continued momentum with the great partnerships formed during this months-long effort.”

Since March, nearly $700,000 has been invested in making building repairs to property in Avondale, while six dilapidated buildings were demolished and another 16 were barricaded. Moreover, City crews have filled 82 potholes, replaced or began to replace 76 street signs, and repaired 421 traffic signals. Also, a $3.2 million renovation of Hirsch Recreation Center is taking place in the heart of the neighborhood.

“One of the most effective ways to extend the impact in improving neighborhoods is when residents, community groups and City departments team up to work together,” said Acting City Manager Patrick Duhaney. “The NEP initiative is a model for how to make good things happen.”

The success of the NEP is a byproduct of numerous organizations working together over the past several months. For example, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s “Light Up Cincinnati” program resulted in 14 LED upgrades for nonprofit groups, churches and small businesses. The installations will result in more than $90,000 in energy and maintenance savings.

Other involved organizations include Avondale Community Council, the Cincinnati Police Department, local churches, Keep Cincinnati Beautiful, ArtWorks Cincinnati, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, UC Health, PNC Bank, BB&T Bank, US Bank, Huntington Bank, First Financial, the Avondale Development Corp., and the Local Initiative Support Corp. (LISC).

For more information about NEP, please visit https://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/community-development/neighborhood-development/nep/

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