Sunday, September 29, 2019

E. 28th St. Work Continues

"We've been talking about it for years."

That's what Paul Aldridge had to say about replacing the aging, single pane wood windows on a home he owns on E. 28th Street in Erie.  "We simply could not have done this without the thousand."

The "thousand" Aldridge is referring to is the one thousand dollar grant he was awarded through the Academy Neighborhood Association's Revitalize E28 program. The program, funded by the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority's Renaissance Block Grant Program, awards property owners up to one thousand dollars in matching funds for home improvements. 

(l-r) Bernadette Aldridge, Paul Aldridge, their granddaughter Jaylynn, and grandson William.
Jaylynn is holding the family dog, Lilly. 

Aldridge is the third recipient of Revitalize E28 funds. The program is designed to reward reinvestment in properties along E. 28th Street in the Academy Neighborhood. The E. 28th Street corridor was chosen based on the Erie Refocused Plan, which specifically mentions E. 28th as an area to focus improvement efforts. The Renaissance Block Grant specifies that improvements should be "front facing" and be designed for maximum impact on the neighborhood at large. The Aldridge family utilized a local vendor, Window World of Erie, to replace seven front windows with double-pane, gas filled, vinyl windows designed for energy efficiency. 

For more information about the Revitalize E28 program, or to see if your property is eligible, please see or email

Monday, August 19, 2019

Neighborhood Plan - Update

Five things to know about the planning process:

ONE: You can get involved! Tuesday evening at 6:30 the next steps in the Academy/Marvintown planning process will be discussed at a joint neighborhood meeting. It is taking place at St. John’s Church, 509 E. 26th Street. The more people who give their input, the more effective the planning process will be.

TWO: The City of Erie is making this happen led by Erie City Planner Kathy Wyrosdick. The Erie Refocused plan calls for each neighborhood to be researched and a plan for best practices in each neighborhood to be created. This might be happening whether or not the Academy Neighborhood organization existed - but the fact that this organization does exist has made it easier for the City Planning Department and “get the word out” to the residents of Academy Neighborhood.

THREE: The Academy-Marvintown area is big - it consists of two U.S. Census Bureau Tracts. The two tracts don’t exactly “jive” with our neighborhood map. Please see the attached pictures.

FOUR: Many people are working hard to make the plan a reality in the City Planning Department including Ms. Wyrosdic, Erin Carey, Paul Cancilla, and Krystal Otwerth. Mayor Schember has also gone door to door on a number of occasions to survey neighborhood residents and we have had a number of neighborhood volunteers who have completed property condition surveys.

FIVE: There are two ways information is being gathered about the neighborhood. 1. Property condition surveys 2. Personal and online surveys. That information will be used by the city to draw up a master plan based on the principles in Erie Refocused.

As the process continues it is going to be up to us, residents of Academy Neighborhood, to make sure that everyone’s voice is being heard and that decisions being made will benefit the most people. 

Moving forward, we may need to rethink and reinvent just what this neighborhood organization IS. Is the work we’re doing smart and focused on what needs to be done to help the most people? Where should we focus our limited resources? 

Friday, June 21, 2019

Neighborhood Plan

This is the beginning.

There has never been a plan for our neighborhood.

From the time modern homes started to be built on this hill over a century ago; through the booming industrial mid-century; continuing into the post-war era and the subsequent rust belt “we’re leaving for the suburbs” days, there has never been a plan to improve this part of Erie. Until now.

The City of Erie is working with us. City Planner Kathy Wyrosdick introduced the planning process for Academy-Marvintown on Tuesday. 

Here's what is going to happen next.

We are going to gather data on every piece of property in the neighborhood. This is where we need your help. There is a volunteer training session Monday, June 24th, at 6 pm, at the Academy Neighborhood Center, 3025 French Street. If you can attend, please click through and contact the Academy Neighborhood Association. Even if you read this after June 24th we can still train you quickly at any Academy Neighborhood Open Office Hours, Mondays 6-7:30 pm at 3025 French Street.

Volunteers and the folks from the planners office will use the app to record data from every property in the neighborhood.

If you want to be trained to gather data, you will need to download a smartphone app. Contact the Academy Neighborhood Association official Facebook page and I’ll send you the info.


In addition to the work that the City Planner's Office (along with neighborhood volunteers) will be doing, a planning room has been set up at the Academy Neighborhood Center. Everyone is welcome to stop by and take a closer look at the maps and plans as they develop. You'll also have a chance to comment on a number of questions:
1. What are our neighborhood's assets?
2. What are our neighborhood's biggest challenges?
3. What are some things that might surprise someone about our neighborhood?
The more people that comment the better.

Here is all of the information provided by Kathy Wyrosdick:

Please take a close look at this map. Note that the area where the plan is being developed is two census tracts - and is larger than what we normally consider our neighborhood.

This is a big opportunity for our neighborhood. Make sure your voice is heard.

Monday, March 18, 2019

A Real and Lasting Impact

Carla and Michael Parker have owned their two story home on E. 28th Street since 1999. Raising kids and working multiple jobs they have worked hard to maintain and improve the house, built in 1914. When Revitalize E28 Grant information was delivered to the Parker home by an Academy Neighborhood Grant Administrator in June of 2018, Michael jumped at the chance to use the matching grant funds to improve some rattling, inefficient windows on the front of his house.

The Parker family was the first recipient of Revitalize E28 matching grant money. They won't be the last. In 2018 The Academy Neighborhood Association was awarded an Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority Renaissance Block Grant - funding to provide up to 20 homes on E. 28th Street with matching funds for street-side home improvements.

Why E. 28th Street? The answer is simple: research.

The Erie Refocused plan, prepared for the City of Erie and first unveiled in 2016, gives each neighborhood in Erie advice on "where to start working". (Source: Erie Refocused, page 67)

The Erie Refocused plan asserts that Erie should "provide financial incentives and support for home improvements on blocks with high potential for return on investment". That's exactly what the Revitalize E28 Grant Program is aiming to do. The Revitalize E28 program offers property owners a 50 percent reimbursement (up to $1,000) for improvement projects that will make a significant impact on not only the structure of the home, but also the views from the street.

ECGRA's Renaissance Block program was patterned after similar programs in other cities, where groups of neighbors work together to improve the look and feel of their part of town. In Jamestown, New York, the Renaissance Block Challenge has been provided more than 1.3 million dollars to over 450 properties in 45 different neighborhoods

The Revitalize E28 Renaissance Block Grant program was planned for two stages.

In Phase 1, 27 properties in the 300 block of E. 28th St. were eligible for funding. Three improvement projects were approved and one, the Parker family's, has been completed and reimbursed. Work on two other projects in Phase 1 is scheduled to take place in spring and summer of 2019.

In Phase 2, 35 properties in and near the 200 block of E. 28th St. are eligible for funding. As of late March 2019, all of the property owners have been notified and given paperwork with details of the program.

To promote participation in the Revitalize E28 program property owners will be given a yard sign to display while the work is being completed - and even longer if they would like.

There is funding for 10 projects in each phase. Because only three projects were approved in Phase 1 in 2018 it is likely that the application process will be reopened for Phase 1 properties. 

We're excited to see the changes that will be taking place in the heart of our neighborhood, and we're grateful for the opportunity given to our organization by the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority.