By BOB COUPLAND
WARREN A local group will be continuing its efforts this year to take properties in the city where homes and buildings have been demolished and turn them into community wildflower gardens with native Ohio plants.
Dennis Blank, a volunteer with Gregg's Gardens and the publisher of online site Warren Expressed, said Tuesday that the community organization and the city will work together to expand their cooperative relationship.
Warren Mayor Doug Franklin said, ``We love the work Gregg's Gardens has done this past year for the city. They turned 22 untended, unsightly lots into beautiful gardens, which also eliminated the need for the city or the county to mow and otherwise maintain them. It was both an aesthetic and financial win for the community.''
The idea was inspired by Gregg Snyder, who died in 2011 and who loved Warren and wanted it to be a more beautiful place.
Gregg's gardens will hold a presentation about plans for this year, including a garden district for Warren at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Wean Foundation, 147 W. Market St. on Courthouse Square, Warren.
Blank said a presentation will be made Thursday at the Wean Building explaining revitalization and beautification plans for this year.
Plans include substituting wildflower and native plant seeds for the common grass seeds normally planted on lots after a condemned home is demolished. Gregg's gardens will supply and plant the custom blend of seeds indigenous to the area, which will be planted post-demolition.
Seed mix will be purchased through a Raymond John Wean Foundation grant.
Wean Foundation President Jeffrey M. Glebocki said community revitalization is one of the foundation's top priorities ``and it makes perfect sense for us to support both TNP and Gregg's gardens in their efforts to turn community liabilities into assets.''
``Our goal for 2013 is to do more vacant lots north of the downtown area,'' he said, noting there are up to 100 lots available.
The target area includes the neighborhood bordered by High Street on the south, Park Avenue on the west, Atlantic Street on the north, and Elm Road on the east, Blank said. The area has as many as 100 vacant lots or houses that can be taken down, he said.
Plans are once a home or building has been torn down to immediately plant flower seeds on the property in an effort to skip the weedy property appearance that often appears shortly after a demolition.
The foundation is also a large supporter of Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership, the operational partner in Gregg's Gardens. TNP oversees the maintenance of the gardens performed by clients of the Warren City Municipal Court and Judges Tom Gysegem and Terry Ivanchak.
Gregg's gardens volunteers also are attempting to raise at least $50,000 to focus on converting other vacant lots in the residential neighborhoods just north of downtown Warren to wildflower and native plant gardens. The goal, between the two programs, is to create at least 100 gardens in an area bounded roughly by High Street, Park Avenue, Atlantic Street and Elm Road.
This neighborhood is currently on-the-bubble and these gardens could tip the balance in favor of them making a big comeback, he said.
Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership program director Matt Martin said one of TNPs roles is to work closely with both the city and Trumbull County Treasurer and Land Bank President Sam Lamancusa to help them with their plans for using the Moving Ohio Forward grant money to take down as many condemned and vacant houses as possible.
Martin said a goal will be to leave a wildflower garden behind wherever there is a demolition within the city.