Monday, December 28, 2015

Our Day in the Sun - Unveiling the New Sign at Baker's Field

Looking back at 2015, I realize our neighborhood group took some big strides forward. We organized several large events designed to bring people out of their homes and into their neighborhood. Before I go any further, I need to thank our Vice President Janina Lee and organizer supreme Michelle Totleben. They, along with our "regular crew", worked endlessly to make "things" happen this past summer. ~ Bob Hand 

Baker Field Re-Dedication Ceremony: May 8, 2015

As part of the Academy Neighborhood Association's ongoing efforts to revitalize and improve Baker's Field, we held a Baker's Field Re-dedication Ceremony on the afternoon of Friday, May 8th, 2015.

We wanted to make this as big of a party as possible, so we invited the entire Jefferson Elementary kindergarten for an afternoon "field day". Thanks to the cooperation of Principal Diane Madara and Assistant Principal Jeff Boam, it was possible for the entire kindergarten class to walk the 4 blocks from Jefferson to the field. Over 100 kids, all four kindergarten teachers, and a number of support staff made the trek down Holland Street on an 80 degree afternoon.

Thank you to everyone at Jefferson Elementary for making the day so special with your presence!

These kids are holding their new Academy Neighborhood Frisbees, made by our volunteer Michelle Totleben. Our association donated a number of  other "field" toys: bubbles, jump-ropes, and kites.

We were also very fortunate to have the Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy Vocal Jazz Ensemble perform The National Anthem, America the Beautiful, and The Blue and Gold for the unveiling ceremony. They also walked (6 blocks) from their school. 

Collegiate Academy Vocal Ensemble - outstanding performance!
We were also joined by officials from Erie County, the City of Erie, the City of Erie School District, the Neighborhood Resource Organization, and Mercyhurst University. Erie City Police stopped by and we thank them for closing Holland Street to traffic for the event.

The new sign - pre-unveiling. You can see the old stone in the background as well. The stone used to have a commemorative plaque, but the plaque was stolen a few years ago. The script on the sign is a recreation of the former plaque. You can see it further down in this post.

Baker's Field is named for Howard Baker, a longtime Erie School Board member, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. Baker's family donated the land to the school district in 1951. Baker family member Wendy Baker-Sherman, was on hand for the ceremony. 

Wendy Baker-Sherman speaking to the crowd.
The Academy Neighborhood Association has a number of people and organizations to thank. First and foremost, our good friends at Howard Industries who donated, designed, and installed the new sign at the corner of 32nd and Holland. The sign is a great improvement to our neighborhood and truly honors the memory of Isaac Baker.

Thank you Howard Industries!

We also thank the Erie Community Foundation, which provided funding for the ceremony, Alfee's Pizza, The Secret Squirrel, The Charter School of Excellence, Isaac Baker Menswear, Mace's MasonryMighty Fine Donuts, and all our neighbors who showed up for the ceremony May 8th. Without everyone's help and cooperation this day wouldn't have happened!

Baker's Field Background: Baker's Field is a four acre green space in the heart of our neighborhood. The field is located on the block between Holland and French Streets, and East 32nd and 33rd Streets. It is owned by the Erie School District and our neighborhood is working hard improve and revitalize the field.

Here is a look at the original handout from the day the field was dedicated on September 26, 1951. The field was originally called "Baker Field" but over the years it grew to be known and loved as "Baker's Field".

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

National Night Out - Tuesday, August 4th at Baker Field

Our neighborhood is hosting its first ever National Night Out event. The purpose of the event is to bring neighborhood residents together, out of their homes, for a fun night of family activities. Each neighborhood that gets involved is free to work on its own plan for the event. Here is every single thing you need to know about next Tuesday night! 

We have chosen to make our event into an outdoor festival. There will be free food (while supplies last) and live music. So bring chairs and blankets and get ready for a fun night within walking distance!

First of all, here are the posters we have been using to publicize the event. Please copy and share on social media. They have all of the basic details. There are larger versions at the bottom of the page.

Here are all the details! 

WHEN? Tuesday, August 4th starting at 5. The band Barlow is scheduled to play at 6, Guru is scheduled to play at 7. DJ Bass Bandage will be playing music before and between sets. We are going to try to wrap up at 8 by pulling the winning tickets for all of the Chinese auction items.

WHERE? Baker Field! I've been saying E. 32nd and Holland to keep it simple but we all know that the field is between E. 32nd and E. 33rd along Holland and darn near close to French.

MORE WHERE? The stage will be set up along the western end of the field near the old training building. There will also be a tent where a number of our partners will have tables. There will be a Zahm and Mattson BIG MACHINE on the eastern end of the field for the kids to check out. People will be, ideally, walking around under the tent and sitting in front of the stage checking out the bands.

WHAT WILL YOU EAT? The first 200 people will get a free hot dog courtesy of Smith's! There is also going to be food for sale from Three B's Saloon food cart. There will also be a limited amount of other snacks and drinks.

WHAT CAN YOU WIN? Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone in the community who donated items for the Chinese auction.

Wegman's $40 family basket (2 of them!)
Starbucks Chai tea infusion sets (2 of them!)
Longhorn Steakhouse $30 gift card
The Brewerie $20 gift card
Calamari's $20 gift card
Romolo's $15 gift card (3 of them!)
Smuggler's Wharf Sunday brunch for two
Firebirds $10 gift card (3 of them!)
Erie Golf Course, 1 18 hole foursome w/ cart
Erie Zoo 4 passes
Bayfront Sheraton 1 traditional night w/ pkg
Erie Children's Museum passes
Presque Isle Canoe and Boat
Erie Otters 4 regular season tickets
The Breakfast Place $25 gift card
Joe Roots Grill $25 gift card
Country Fair - 2 $25 gift cards
Prizes from: Outback Steakhouse

Everyone who shows up will get at least one entry. Additional sheets of tickets will be available for purchase.

1. Showing up.
2. Volunteering. We have a free t-shirt with your name on it. Email academy . neighborhood . erie AT gmail . com
3. Bringing a donation for second harvest food bank.
4. Bringing a couple of extra bucks for the Chinese auction.

People will have a number of opportunities to learn about services that are available to them in Erie.
1. Erie Public Library book swap - bring a book take a book
2. Voter registration - register to vote and learn how to use an electronic voting machine
3. Face painting for kids.
4. Food and drink will be served.
5. Allstate Insurance and Coldwell Banker will be sharing information about their services.
6. The Erie County United Way will be sharing information about its services.
7. Learn more about the Neighborhood Resource Organization and Academy Neighborhood Association. You can also buy an Academy Neighborhood t-shirt.
8. GECAC, Erie County Health Department, The Red Cross and Erie Fire Department also all have tables.

Hallman Chevrolet
Rupp Limousine
Allstate Insurance, Mary Carlotti
Pine Avenue Beer Distributing
The Jefferson Educational Society
Elite Automotive 
Uptown's Corner Bar
Realtor Rose Nouri of Coldwell Banker
State Farm Insurance, Mary Beth McMaster
Cooper Business Machines
The Sunflower Club of Erie
Neighborhood Resource Organization
United Way of Erie County


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Who Said What - Gun Violence in Erie, PA

There is much being said about the recent violence in Erie. Much of it is being said in the pages of the Erie Times-News. Because some residents of our neighborhood may have missed them, I've pieced together this list of links to recent articles. 

People wishing to comment intelligently about Erie Mayor Joe Sinnott's response (or alleged lack thereof) can now easily find his response to said allegations and a host of other responses to and thoughts about the recent events in Erie.

Most recent violent shooting. This attracted attention from national news outlets.

Pat Howard, of the Erie Times-News, reaction.

Mayor Joe Sinnott's column 7-26-15

Erie County Councilperson Kyle Foust

John Knox, a local lawyer weighs in.

And finally, an article from Reverend Jerry Priscaro

These are the most prominent views on what is happening, however our publication of this list is not an endorsement of any single view. This is simply a good starting point for people who may have missed some of the recent commentary. Read, learn, and form your own opinions. 

For more information on the Academy Neighborhood Association please visit . 

Friday, June 19, 2015

2nd Annual Academy Neighborhood Cleanup

The theme of our second annual neighborhood cleanup was "working together".  Over 50 people and 8 organizations were involved in every aspect of the effort, from donating supplies to carting off the garbage that we cleaned.

I'm going to provide all of the details here so that anyone trying to plan a similar event in their neighborhood can use our cleanup as a template or example. There are many ways that our cleanup could be improved upon but I feel as though, in our second year, we are making a pretty strong effort.

The cleanup was held on Saturday, April 25th, 2015. Our neighborhood cleanup was registered with Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania, which is an offshoot of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful. Once registered, any event was eligible for supplies (garbage bags, gloves, and safety vests) from Penn Dot. We simply called the Penn Dot office on upper Peach Street and they set supplies aside for us.

This year, The United Way of Erie County stepped in to supply additional bags, gloves, and vests, as well as a free Erie Seawolves ticket voucher for every volunteer. Most importantly, the United Way organized an online registration system for volunteers who wanted to join the cleanup effort. This led directly to over 30 new participants.

For our cleanup, we decided to have a "kick-off" event at 9 am. This was a good way to get everyone in the neighborhood together and build a feeling of camaraderie. We had coffee and water available for all of the volunteers. 

We also had a drop off point for all of the garbage bags. This gave everyone a meeting point for after the effort. 

All told we picked up over 25 bags of garbage and debris, and 8 plastic sandwich bags of cigarette butts.

We have many people and organizations to thank: Erie Homes for Children and Adults, United Way of Erie County, Penn Dot, Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy's Green Team and National Honor Society, the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity at Gannon University, and of course The Secret Squirrel at 3025 French Street, which was the site of our launch ceremony.

We should also thank the Tom Ridge Environmental Center for accepting our bags of cigarette butts. The butts are being sent to a recycling center.

THANK YOU! Doreen Petri and the Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate
Academy Green Team. They kicked off the cleanup by taking their
message about cigarette butts to 38th Street.

THANK YOU! Zeta Beta Tau fraternity from Gannon University. 

THANK YOU! To all of our good friends at Erie Homes for Children and Adults. 

THANK YOU! EHCA for taking part. The teams from Erie Homes for Children and Adults worked to pickup trash along E. 27th Street.

THANK YOU! Another group of kids from Collegiate Academy; members of the National Honor Society. 

THANK YOU! Over half a dozen families from our neighborhood volunteered their time.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Academy Neighborhood Cleanup - Saturday, April 25th, 2015

Here is everything you need to know about our second annual cleanup.

First of all THANK YOU! Cleanups can be a thankless job so let me just say how much everyone in the neighborhood appreciates your efforts. 


Saturday, April 25th, starting at 9 am. We will work the neighborhood until 1 pm. You may work for as long or short of a time as you want, of course! You may also work any time you like, you do not have to start at 9. 

For example: Last year we had a couple of families that wanted to help later in the day. If this is what you would like to do, just email this address and someone will deliver supplies (bags, gloves, and vests) to your house. 

THE LAST GARBAGE PICK-UP will be at about 12:30 (at the pick-up spot... which has not yet been revealed) so bear this in mind while planning your day.  


At 9 am Saturday, April 25th, we will have a kick-off meeting at The Secret Squirrel, 3025 French Street, in Erie. We will have coffee brewing and everyone will get their instructions as to what blocks they should cover. You will also get your supplies: trash bags, gloves, and safety vests. You do not have to be at the kick-off. We have a few families that are going to work a little later in the day and that is absolutely fine. 

After you have collected your garbage you will take it to a site to be named later. We will reveal the super-secret site the day of the cleanup. This will prevent anyone from randomly dumping their personal garbage there.


You! Thank you for volunteering. There are two ways to sign up.

1. You can email The Academy Neighborhood Association and let us know if there is a certain part of the neighborhood you would like to cover.

2. You can register through the United Way. Just click here. Scroll to the bottom. We have a number of people who have signed up this way. Thank you!

3. We have MANY volunteers who are signed up! I'm looking forward to seeing everyone tomorrow morning!

Who else? 

Our good neighbors at Erie Homes for Children and Adults are participating this year. A group of staff and clients will be cleaning the area of East 27th Street between Holland and German Streets. Thank you to everyone at EHCA for getting involved! We are grateful for good neighbors like you.

The Green Team at Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy will be conducting their regular cleanup of their adopt-a-highway on Friday, April 24th. Be sure to watch for them and drive slowly and carefully as they work along 38th Street just south of our neighborhood.  

What will we do?

We will pick-up trash and debris along the streets in our neighborhood: State Street, French, Holland, German, and Old French from East 27th to East 34th. 

We also have a couple of special projects - Baker Field and a couple of other addresses that need it.

What about cigarette butts? 

Every cleanup participant will receive a "butt bag". We are collecting all of the cigarette butts separately and donating them to the Tom Ridge Environmental Center. The folks at TREC send them to a recycling company.

How will I know where to clean?

If you have a specific area you would like to work just let organizer Bob Hand know. He has a map of areas people want to work. After those areas are claimed we will collaborate Saturday morning to make sure all the other areas are covered. 

Some guidelines:

What should I pick up? Let's be thorough. We have a large number of volunteers so we will be able to take our time and really pick up all of the little pieces of junk. Generally, If you can pick something up by taking one step off of a sidewalk and it is clearly trash, grab it! If there are bigger items let's try to bag them up and get them to the pick-up site. NEVER pick up a needle or anything that could hurt you. Just leave it - we will call the health department. 

Should I be loud? Yes! Let's let people know what is going on. A large, boisterous crowd of people that care about their neighborhood is out making it a better place to live. Let people know. 

Why am I picking up other people's trash? This is a good question. We are working to improve our neighborhood. We are also working to raise the standards and expectations for people visiting our neighborhood and for the people who live here that just don't care. Additionally, today's garbage in our neighborhood is tomorrow's garbage in Lake Erie. Lake Erie already has a large amount of plastic and other waste - this is one small step we can take to be a "part of the solution". 

Thank you: United Way of Erie County, Penn Dot, Erie Homes for Children and Adults, The Secret Squirrel, NWPA Collegiate Academy Green Team, ZBT Gannon, and Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania.  

Most of all thank you for caring. The first step to a better neighborhood is the first step you take out your front door. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Yes We Can: Getting Rid of Garbage at Baker Field

For those who don't know, Baker Field (often called Baker's Field) is a grassy field in our neighborhood on Holland Street, between East 32nd and 33rd Streets. The field is owned by the Erie School District. The district has been hard pressed in recent years to maintain or update the space.

In our survey of people living near Baker Field 86% of people said they would like to see garbage and recycling cans placed at the field, and more importantly they want to see the cans emptied on a regular basis. Additionally, several survey respondents mentioned trash and garbage accumulation as one of their primary concerns about the site. 

In order to address this situation, our neighborhood association contacted the City of Erie in late August of 2014.  Early in September the city dropped off six 55 gallon drums and one recycling can with the understanding that the association would coordinate or somehow arrange for the emptying of the cans. Thank you again to Brenda Sandberg and anyone else who was involved in the delivery of the cans.

The cans sat, occasionally being emptied by me or other neighbors, occasionally collecting gross amounts of soggy trash. Either way, it was better than the garbage blowing around the neighborhood.

Then, one day in October, four of the cans disappeared. I have a few theories as to what happened.

1. They were stolen. 55 gallon drums scan be sold for 5 to 10 dollars, making a quick, but small, profit for someone. I list this theory as probable.

2. Someone at some level of government (the city or school district?) considered the cans garbage themselves and got rid of them. I list this theory as possible but unlikely.

3. Someone in the neighborhood stuck the cans in their garage or storage space for the winter. I will call this theory preferable

Because I was concerned about the safety of the remaining two cans, I transported them to the Academy Neighborhood Garbage Can Rehabilitation Facility, also known as my back porch. Here I painted and rehabbed the cans inside and out with two coats of Rustoleum. The cans were also painted with the stencil. I'll do some touch-ups in the spring.

As for the future of the cans and garbage disposal at Baker Field, we need to work together on a few issues.

1. Deciding the best, permanent placement for the cans at Baker Field.
2. Working with our neighbors who live on the perimeter of the field to develop a plan to regularly empty the cans. 
3. Working to find money or donations to ensure there is a regular supply of 55 gallon drum liners. Valu Home Center sells them. 

I look forward to hearing from people willing to help.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Our Neighborhood Online

I have found, over the years, that people get involved with neighborhood events and happenings and then slowly drift away or lose touch with what is going on. To combat this I've been working to lay the foundation for a strong online presence for the Academy Neighborhood Association for the last few years. Basically, once someone is connected, I want them to stay connected and feel connected to what we are doing.

Our neighborhood's online presence started with an email address, simply because we needed to have a way to know who was participating in the first ever neighborhood sale in 2011. Since then the Academy Neighborhood's online footprint has grown considerably, culminating with the creation of, our new online home.

Here is a quick run down of where we are on the internet and how we can use each format.


The Academy Neighborhood Association's main public face has been With over 120 "likes" the facebook page was our main way of communicating for a couple of years. Lately, however, facebook has been asking for money to advertise and posts to the page do not automatically show up in your news feed. 

We also have a private group on facebook for residents only. If you live in or near the neighborhood and would like to join, just search for Academy Neighbors, Erie, PA while logged into your facebook account. 

There is also a facebook page for the Baker Field Revitalization project. You can "like" the page to keep updated on our plans for improving this wonderful green space in our neighborhood.


Follow @academyneighbor (this would have been academyneighbors but that handle is one letter too long for twitter). Good for connecting with community leaders in Erie and sharing ideas about how to help neighborhoods prosper. 


This is a relatively new social network. You can join our neighborhood by following this link . I think nextdoor is going to be very useful in the future, and a few other neighborhoods in Erie have jumped on board. You do have to provide the site with your real address and name. Sign up today, please!

And the latest addition... The new site gives us control over how Erie and the rest of the world view our neighborhood. It also allows people to make donations via paypal to support our projects. If you have anything you would like to see added to the site or changed just let me know, at good old academy . neighborhood . erie @ . 

The online presence has been constructed. We have a number of ways to communicate both private and public. Let's make 2015 the year we step outside our front doors and make our neighborhood a better place to live.