Tonight, as I still contemplate why someone smashed two glass panes on my front porch door last night, I return to thoughts about this neighborhood on the Northeast side of Cleveland. Two days in a row last week I had conversations with different people regarding the place we live in. On that Tuesday, at my local block watch meeting, a guy who lives on my street seemed rather pessimistic. A neighbor of ours recently sold his house and moved out. The man at the meeting said that the couple wanted to move out a year ago but had to fix up the house first. Then we talked about the guy across the street from him selling his house and the fact that as he walked around the Indian streets in our neighborhood he hasn’t seen as much junk in the yards in his entire time living here. Of course, the couple that moved had a school age son and, like so many before them, wanted him to attend something better than Cleveland Public Schools. In fact, their house sold for almost $69,000 which is in fact a good sign. While homes averaged here $100,000 in 2000, they plummeted to the point that in 2010 they were going for $24,000. One can argue the effects of panic selling and the mortgage melt-down have for the most part vanished. As for the junk, and the rarely mowed lawns at certain houses that I remember once as impeccably landscaped, I admit it’s true. However, I have also seen houses with new porches, paint jobs, and people living there.
The next day, October 11 2017, as I was leaving my ward club meeting on Holmes Avenue in the neighborhood to our south, I had a good chat with Mike Troha who was for years a building inspector and also a long-time resident. He hasn’t been so optimistic about North Shore Collinwood today than in the past twenty years. He has also noticed homes being fixed up and that young couples as well as empty nesters were moving in places other than north of Lakeshore Boulevard. “Even around 185 St, and Nottingham Road?” I asked him and he said yes. So, you see, two days and two different views from two different men living in the same place.
This is what you get for living in a place that is considered a tipping point neighborhood. All major cities have them, especially in the Rust Belt. These are places where they can be the settings for major revitalization, or shortly become the empty wastelands that are so many other inner-city neighborhoods dominated by empty lots. I can honestly say that we are a far cry from the latter, but as this act of vandalism to my porch door shows, there are issues. We have to keep it real, after all even suburban communities in Lake County have their problems. It would be nice to get away from it all but can everyone afford to live in Hudson or Avon (or Carmel California for that matter)? Besides, as I see the new railings being put on the the porches of the duplex next to me, I do agree in part with all those people who these days say that this is such a great neighborhood and give it a few years to really take off.
Tuesday this week, I stopped after work at the Slovenian Worker’s Home on Waterloo Road where there was a spaghetti dinner. It was fundraiser for our councilman, Michael D. Polensek, who is up for re-election this year. Anyway, I ran into the neighbor who I talked to last Tuesday. The first words out of his mouth was his pleasant surprise seeing all the work being done on that duplex next to me. “They are really going to town” he said. I also learned tonight that the cousin of Polensek’s assistant bought a house on East 174 St. for $5,000 and is renovating it. It happens to be an Arts and Crafts style home and from previous conversations, I knew that they plan to live in it. Seems like Mike Troha was right after all.
Photographs by James Valentino.