Program 'ReNEWs' houses, reinvigorates Tyler neighborhood

Published on Tuesday, 20 May 2014 22:53 - Written by kgooch@tylerpaper.com

KELLY GOOCH

Bishop James Granberry has lived in his home about seven years, but he said he still rejoices each time he comes through the front door.

He said he’s grateful and considers the three-bedroom, two-bath home “a blessing from heaven.”

Granberry, 78, was able to move into the home after receiving assistance through Tyler Neighborhood Services. It was the first time he had a new house, or a shower in his house.

He said his old home wasn’t livable, and he put buckets out to catch the water when it rained. But he now has a nice, comfortable home in which to live.

“I have to give all the glory to God and grace that he made it possible,” Granberry said.

Granberry’s home is part of a Tyler neighborhood that will continue to undergo improvements as part of the city’s ReNEW Neighborhood Empowerment Works program.

The program is designed to revitalize a chosen neighborhood with the help of various city departments, according to a city gathering notice. The departments come together “to make long lasting improvement.”

Brenda Johnson, manager of the city’s Neighborhood Services Department, said the program has been in place for about seven or eight years, and a particular neighborhood has been on the radar for improvements. The area includes an estimated 175 to 200 homes within the boundaries of Oakwood, Erwin, Hill and Grand streets.

Ms. Johnson said neighborhood residents have provided feedback on what is needed in their area, and during a block party on Thursday, will receive information about planned improvements.

The block party, which features bounce houses and entertainment, is scheduled for 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday in the 1300 block of Paul Street. Various city departments and personnel will be on hand.

Ms. Johnson said residents are concerned about some of the vacant lots in their neighborhood, as well as junk vehicles there.

Additionally, some houses are dilapidated or vacant and need to come down, she said. Other issues that could potentially be addressed are curb and gutter, stray animals and foot traffic.

“There was just myriad of issues that we plan to address,” Ms. Johnson said.

One thing that will happen, she said, is trash pick-up, which will involve the neighborhood residents as well as the city. The city also plans to put in dumpsters.

Ms. Johnson said the goal is for residents to see what the city can provide, but also what city department they should contact for specific neighborhood needs.

“We empower them by giving them the knowledge of who to contact,” she said.

The planned revitalization efforts will continue what has already taken place in the neighborhood.

Ms. Johnson said the city has put in $2 million toward revitalization there through building a cul-de-sac, drainage system upgrades, curb and gutter work and an overlay on Paul Street, among other things.

Fourteen new houses also were constructed in the neighborhood using federal funds then sold to first-time homebuyers, and five families were relocated to Paul Street, where the city placed them in new homes, Ms. Johnson said.

Pamela Pierson, 48, has been in her home on Paul Street for two years. Before that, she lived in a south Tyler apartment.

Ms. Pierson, who was approved through the Neighborhood Services Department’s First Time Homebuyers Program for low to moderate-income residents, said she enjoys her new home, and received a warm welcome from her neighbors.

Overall, Ms. Johnson said, the city wants to “get it (the area) thriving” again like it was in the 1970s and 1980s.

She said the city tries to show residents what the city is able to do in terms of neighborhood improvements, and help the residents maintain it moving forward.