August 11, 2013 1:30 am
Tinbridge Hill, a small historical neighborhood off Fifth Street, is in its third year of an intensive revitalization effort involving neighbors, city agencies and numerous nonprofits.
The latest project of this revitalization campaign is to update the neighborhood’s 17-year-old master plan — an undertaking that brought some 50 residents together last month for a neighborhood summit to discuss their concerns and priorities for the neighborhood.
Throughout the four-hour event, neighbors sketched out a clear vision of the area’s needs. More police patrols, support for home repairs and job training for youths were among some of the common refrains.
Pam Brown said she’s been seeing more and more of her neighbors working to fix up their homes, some of which were built in the 1800s, according to a city inventory. But Brown also said she’s worried about crime in the neighborhood, to the point where she’s sometimes afraid to take a walk outside. “Hopefully, we can get out and do more in the neighborhood,” she said. “I hope we can create a better neighborhood with less drug activity and more involvement in the community.”
Kent White, community development director for the city, said he was impressed by the passion he saw at the summit. “My biggest takeaway was how invested the members of this community are in their neighborhood and its success,” White said, adding that commitment will be key to sustaining this work over the long term.
The city, at the urging of a coalition of churches, nonprofits and colleges working in the area, has made Tinbridge Hill one of the focuses of its community revitalization efforts for the past three years. City Council has directed more than $325,000 in federally funded community grants to the neighborhood, which includes destination points like Old City Cemetery, to pay for housing rehabilitation and other projects.
The city also renovated its community center there and is working toward other projects, such as building a connection to the Blackwater Creek Trail System. Parks & Recreation is actively working on that now, and hopes to start construction on the new trailhead next year.
This heightened level of investment was envisioned as a three-to-five project, after which the city would try to apply the template to other neighborhoods.
To make the progress in Tinbridge HIll sustainable over the long term, White said, participants will have to build a strong network of outside resources and neighborhood support.
“With this plan, we’re trying to identify opportunities and resources — not just money but human capital as well — that the neighborhood can use to further its mission,” White said. “… We know there just aren’t enough city funds to address every issue. So how do we do it? We make new connection points.”
Tinbridge Hill is already off to a strong start on that point, officials said, having formed partnerships with a number of groups that have joined forces under the umbrella name of Friends of Tinbridge Hill.
Stakeholders hope this new plan will create a blueprint for how to build on those partnerships and grow the community.
Justice Carroll, 18, said there can be problems in the neighborhood — drugs, fights — but she’s seen an improvement since a neighborhood watch was implemented and she’s excited about working more closely with the Lynchburg Police Department, which had an officer at the summit.
“It’s a pretty good neighborhood,” she said. “Some of the houses are nice and the people are nice.”
Carroll, who was one of the younger people at the summit, said she hoped more people will be inspired to take action and help out.
“We can do more to clean up the neighborhood and watch out for each other,” she said. “I just hope everything falls into place and becomes better.”