Reshaping Fulton One Block at a Time

Have you been listening? Can you hear it? All over the city, neighbors have been talking and getting to know each other. They have joined together to revitalize their neighborhoods, creating a sense of community and pride.

For some people, Fulton has always been their home. Many generations have come and gone, but one thing stays the same – there is still hope for our city. How do I know this? More than 160 homeowners have been working hard since May to revitalize their neighborhoods. Fulton Block Builder signs are popping up in neighborhoods all over the city. These signs are a symbol of hope, pride, and community. Working together, we will make Fulton once again a city with a future.

Eight rental properties are receiving a curbside facelift thanks to the Fulton Block Builder challenge

This is the first summer for the Fulton Block Builders (FBB) and it has been a very successful one. Linda Eagan, the FBB director, has been extremely pleased with the exterior improvements being made by homeowners, however there is one group she is particularly happy to be working with.  FBB has had the opportunity to engage five different landlords who are revitalizing eight different properties throughout the city.  

One of the guiding principles for Eagan has come from Charles Buki, a founder of the Healthy Neighborhood Initiative; which FBB is based on. “When we say “healthy neighborhoods” we do not mince words. We believe that lack of income should not disqualify people from growing up and living in nurturing communities. So when we say “healthy neighborhoods” we mean a place where it makes sense for people to invest their time and energy and money.”

For Eagan, this Buki quote means that she is constantly striving for all residents of Fulton to live in safe reliable housing in a city that nurtures and values all its citizens. It is important to create a place that is attractive and affordable to a variety of income groups. Whether you own your home or rent, you have the right to be proud. The five landlords participating in FBB in 2017 agree with this philosophy.

Landlord, Cheryl Baldwin has recently finished her project.  Thanks to FBB, Cheryl and her husband were inspired to repair and paint the front porch, wash the house and remove an unsightly old pipe.  “While doing the work, I was able to connect with other neighbors and have wonderful conversations about FBB, so that’s fantastic. I have been watching the news and keeping up on all of the great developments going on. It is so wonderful to see Fulton transforming in a positive direction.  My hat’s off to FBB for putting this all together and I look forward to our next season.” cheered Baldwin.

Cheryl Baldwin is just one of several landlords participating in the 2017 Fulton Block Builder Challenge

Cheryl Baldwin is just one of several landlords participating in the 2017 Fulton Block Builder Challenge

We as a community must understand that by improving neighborhoods, we will better provide for all residents. FBB is targeting limited resources in a meaningful way that creates the greatest impact. “We must generate value, equity and social investment to give hope, confidence, and opportunity for all neighborhood residents today and for our future residents tomorrow.” said Eagan  


As The Weather Clears Out The Fulton Block Builders Ramp Up The Work To Their Homes In The City Of Fulton

August has been a very busy month for homeowners in the city of Fulton. Fulton Block Builders (FBB) Administrative Director- Linda Eagan, has reported that the success of these projects and the increased pride in neighborhoods is exactly what she was hoping for in the city. “Unlike the beginning of our summer, the weather during the month of August has been great for getting outside projects completed. Contractors that have been behind due to all the rain are catching up! Michele Trepasso has been hoping to have her house painted in the beautiful historic colors she chose by working with the FBB historical architect, Susan Arena since the beginning of summer and now the painters are starting!” said Eagan.

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The Moore’s were lucky to have completed their project and couldn’t be happier with the results. “We’ve had so many compliments from people stopping to talk every time we are outside” said Dianne Moore. “Susan was fabulous to work with. She spent lots of time with us and always welcomed our questions. I can feel the changes happening in Fulton and am so glad the Block Builder program is here”

Another project completed in August include the Rothrock’s new brick front steps and railings. “We didn’t realize just how bad the steps had gotten until we took the fresh eyes walk with FBB and saw our house objectively. They were not only dangerous, they were an eyesore. So many people have complimented us on the new steps, the landscaping and the freshly painted and power washed exterior. There are five houses in a row that are making transformative changes, it’s wonderful to see all of the work happening in the city and we are glad to be helping our neighbors” said the Rothrock’s.

“FBB has seen an impact of this new revitalization program through new doors, front steps, windows shutters, lots and lots of power washing and landscaping but most importantly the impact is realized by the new sense of pride and community engagement” hailed Eagan.

The Fulton Block Builders Are Increasing The City’s Curb Appeal And Bringing A New Sense Of Community

Neighbors are so glad to see the DeMar’s on their front steps for the first time in years. The steps were no longer safe for the couple to use because they were steep, narrow and had no railings. Earlier this spring, when block leaders, Heather Crofoot and Alissa Viscome approached the DeMar’s about becoming part of the Fulton Block Builders, they immediately thought about those steps. John and Florine DeMar had their home built 60 years ago, and have since raised their 4 wonderful children in it.

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DeMar After 10.JPG

Due to their longevity in the neighborhood, they know most of their neighbors and are thrilled to be able to once again sit on their front steps and chat with them. “It’s a good neighborhood, people are happy here. When they move they long to come back” said Mr. DeMar. Another aspect that they enjoy about the new steps is the ability to see all the beautiful landscaping and flowers their daughter, Claudette has put in. She is the longtime local business owner of Claudette’s Flowers and Gifts at 122 Academy Street. Helping her parents and working with plants are two of her passions.

The Fulton Block Builders Are Having a Positive Impact Locally That is Being Noticed By Neighboring Communities

As Blocks are gathering around the city and home improvements continue, Fulton is being noticed by other communities.

In July, the Mayor of the Village of East Syracuse, Bob Tackman and the Richland Area Chamber of Commerce President, Jodie Perry located in Mansfield Ohio - contacted Linda Eagan, and asked how the Block Builders got started and if more information could be shared. Of course, Linda was more than happy to do that. After all, Paul Stewart, Executive Director of the Oswego Renaissance Association and the Executive Director of the Shineman Foundation, Karen Goetz have shared plenty of information with the Fulton Block Builders (FBB). Without their advice and guidance Linda doesn’t think that FBB would have even been born.

Fulton Block Builder volunteers Heather Crofoot, Dennis Merlino and Linda Eagan, with the Village of East Syracuse Mayor, Bob Tackman

Fulton Block Builder volunteers Heather Crofoot, Dennis Merlino and Linda Eagan, with the Village of East Syracuse Mayor, Bob Tackman

Thursday August 3rd, Block Builder volunteers Heather Crofoot, Dennis & Kelly Merlino and Linda Eagan, met with the Village of East Syracuse Mayor, Bob Tackman and Clerk, Pat Derby. It seems that Pat is friends with a former resident of Fulton and they sent her a link to the Fulton Block Builder website with a message to check out what Fulton is doing! Pat did and shared it with the Mayor.

Bob and Pat came to the August meeting eager to learn what the Block Builder project was all about and ended up talking with the volunteers for about an hour and a half. “We are proud of what is happening in Fulton and all of the volunteer’s love sharing our story every chance we get” commented Eagan. Dennis Merlino said that the Fulton Block Builder project is giving people the opportunity to see how we can improve our community and enabling enthusiasm and action for positive change. Heather zoned in on the increased sense of community that can be felt in the participating blocks and beyond. The Block Builders offered to meet again or share more in the future and the Mayor “tagged” FBB on Facebook before the volunteers arrived home!

Jodie Perry from the Richland Area Chamber of Commerce has been following FBB on Facebook since its launch in January and has been intrigued with the progress the City of Fulton residents have made in such a short time. Linda Eagan shared information about the Healthy Neighborhood Initiative and gave Jodi links to Charles Buki at CZB LLC for more information on how to rank a city and possibly hire that firm to develop a plan for their communities. “I don’t know if either community will start a program like ours, but if they do, I hope both have the same success we are feeling and seeing in Fulton” said Eagan.

Fulton Block Builders Momentum Continues as Homes are Repaired, Painted and Landscaped

Homeowners around the city of Fulton are taking advantage of the nice weather and getting to work on their house projects. Holly DeMar on Walradt Street, Vickie Smith on West 4th and Tamie Allen on West 3rd have all recently finished painting and improving their homes.

Demar Home Before

Demar Home Before

“I would like to say what a great experience this has been.  I am overjoyed to have been able to paint my house.  I have also enjoyed getting to know my neighbors better, even the ones not in our direct neighborhood.  I thank the block builders for all their hard work on this!” said Holly DeMar.  Holly took advantage of the Historical Color Schemes that have been prepared specifically for the city of Fulton by Architectural Historian, Susan Arena, who grew up in Fulton but now resides and works in the greater Boston area.  Holly chose color scheme CR-1-1A (white heron/onyx) and received a bonus match from Fulton Block Builders (FBB) for doing so.  More information on the historical colors can be found at:

Demar Home After

Demar Home After

Demar Home After

Demar Home After

Vickie Smith

Vickie Smith

“I have been wanting to paint my house since I bought it 8 years ago, but there was so much to do inside I never got to it. I am so happy to have it painted now and have been getting lots of compliments from my neighbors. We hired the work done but everyone in the family took part, even my beautiful grand-daughter Jocelyn Vasquez. Fulton Block Builders provides countless opportunities for neighbors and families to work together” Vickie Smith told this writer.

Tamie Allen heard about the Fulton Block Builder project at work when her employer Fulton Savings Bank committed $10,000.00 to the FBB project. “That really caught my attention”, she said “If the bank is this supportive of FBB I should learn as much as I can about it. So, I did and boy am I glad.” Tammy went on to say she hopes that more of her neighbors become involved next year. There are new people in the neighborhood and she thinks it would be a great way to get to know each other better. Thanks to FBB Tamie was able to replace dying shrubbery with colorful flowering perennials and bushes. She also replaced the broken front screen door. “These small changes make the whole house look so much neater” she said.

Fulton Block Builder Positively Impact the “Sealright Community”

“All of these houses were built by Sealright for their employees around 1945. They were known as the Sealright Homes.” said Jeanette Davis, one of the most recent homeowners to be presented with a Fulton Block Builder Matching Grant check. Jeanette and George Davis moved into their home 42 years ago, where they raised their three children, nurtured five grandchildren and delighted in 5 great-grandchildren. “This has always been a nice neighborhood and I’m honored to be chosen to be part of Fulton Block Builders. It’s amazing, we wanted to fix our driveway but we weren’t sure we could do it, this program has been a big help and everyone is great!” said Jeanette.

The Sealright community is known for helping one and other, in fact people living here say it’s the “best” area of the city to live in because people are so nice. For years, it never changed said Jeanette but lately it has. People are in more of a rush, we still help each other but this program is bringing us back together - like it used to be.  Thanks to the FBB matching grant the Davis’s were able to patch and resurface their black top driveway, bringing a fresh new look to the house. They are neighbors to the Kasperek’s who also have received a check from FBB, making a nice impact in this area of the Sealright homes! Once all 23 houses have completed their exterior renovations there will be a transformation that will be noticeable to all!

Fulton Block Builder Recipients Help One Another In Many Ways

At the heart of the Healthy Neighborhood initiative (HNI) which is what Fulton Block Builders (FBB) is founded on~ is a shared sense of community.  Community is about engagement, sharing excitement and being good neighbors. All around the city you can find neighbors helping each other just as these three have done on the West Side.

Fulton NY

Many neighborhoods in transition lack a sense of community among their residents. The HNI approach provides the foundation for building neighborly relationships. Through Fulton Block Builders cultivate an environment that is conducive to managing neighborhood change. FBB builds a sense of community by focusing on civic engagement and empowering residents to work together on their properties and neighborhoods. FBB breaks from the traditional advocacy approach to community organizing and focuses on resident engagement. FBB’s primary goal is not to organize residents to be vocal about their neighborhoods and the problems that need to be addressed, but to encourage residents to become engaged in their community and neighborhood and to take a proactive role in creating positive change. The three gentlemen seen here in this photo are living proof that this concept is taking hold around the city of Fulton.