Fulton Block Builders preserve green space, architectural value

By Lexie Kwiek lexie@fultonvalleynews.com

The grassroots neighborhood revitalization program that completed 126 exterior home improvement projects in 2017 is back for a second year, and has already started engaging new stakeholders throughout the city of Fulton.

After a successful initial year of community building and property beautification, the Fulton Block Builders (FBB) wanted to find a way to share information about the Block Challenge program with more city residents, said FBB Administrative Director Linda Eagan. Participants from last year’s program suggested hosting an informational meeting, which Eagan and FBB volunteers facilitated on Jan. 17 at the River Vista Conference Center.

“We had seen with many nighttime meetings that life can often get in the way and they aren’t really well attended,” said Eagan. The FBB meeting proved to be an exception, with more than 80 individuals present to learn more about the Block Challenge program.

“We were not familiar with most of the people that attended,” said Eagan. “It really brought in some new interest.”

As part of the presentation, Eagan gave guests an overview of FBB and the Block Challenge in particular, which provides property owners with a dollar-for-dollar match of up to $1,000 for exterior home improvements. The unique feature of the program is homeowners must participate together in order to receive funding. At least 50 percent of the houses in a block or cluster must commit to completing exterior repairs in order to be eligible for the funding.

Eagan said while the Block Challenge’s first year was a success, there are still many people with questions about how the program works. One of the most frequently asked questions she receives is about program funding.

“People think we’re a government program, but we’re not,” said Eagan. She said FBB is a grassroots, neighborhood beautification program that relies on donations to operate.

One of the project’s biggest donors is the Shineman Foundation, which has offered FBB a second matching grant of up to $100,000 to support projects in 2018. The grant doubles any donations made by businesses or individuals, offering $2 for every $1 raised. In order to maximize the Shineman funding, FBB must raise at least $50,000 by the end of April, said Eagan.

“We’re at 85 percent of our goal,” said Eagan. “We’re out there every day actively recruiting both businesses and individuals to support the program.”

This active recruitment strategy also allows Eagan and fellow block builders to answer one of the other major questions people still ask, which is, “What types of repairs does the Block Challenge fund?”

“It’s all street appeal,” said Eagan, explaining the Block Challenge funds can only go toward exterior repairs and beautification efforts.

Eagan said popular projects in 2017 included landscaping, rebuilding front steps, and replacing sidewalks, windows and doors. While the list of potential projects is extensive, Eagan said there are a few items FBB does not fund.

“We don’t support the removal of green spaces,” said Eagan. “Green is good for a city.”

She said an example of a project that would not receive FBB support could be if someone owned a property with multiple residences and realized there was not enough off-street parking for all of their tenants. Eagan said FBB would not provide funds for the property owner to expand the driveway over their grass and lawn.

Along with preserving green space, FBB also looks to keep the original charm of Fulton houses intact.

“We look to preserve the architecture and character of properties in the city,” said Eagan. “We want to keep the architectural value of the homes.”

Eagan said an example of a project that would not receive support would be if a homeowner wanted to remove hand-carved knoll posts from their front entrance and replace them with two-by-four boards. She said FBB also looks to preserve original wooden siding rather than remove and replace it with vinyl.

“We would rather repair and repaint clapboard than take it down and replace it with vinyl siding,” said Eagan. “But we will support the upkeep of vinyl siding that is already on a house.”

To help with exterior painting, Eagan recommends homeowners take advantage of the Paint Fulton program. According to the FBB website, “Paint Fulton provides City of Fulton residents with a selection of historic color schemes to use for painting their homes.”

In 2018, ANYONE in the city can receive a $500 reimbursement if they utilize the Historical Colors. 

“A person anywhere in the city can apply, whether they are part of the Block Challenge or not,” said Eagan. “Last year we had four people participate in using the historical colors. We would like to see that number grow.”

For more information on applying for Paint Fulton or Block Challenge funding, visit www.fultonblockbuilders.com.

Eagan reminds all property owners interested in the Block Challenge to complete their pre-application before the March 16 deadline. Once they have recruited at least half of the neighbors living on their block or in their cluster and submitted the initial application, representatives from FBB will meet with applicants to explain the fine details of the program and help create a strong application to be submitted before April 18.

The Eggletons stand in front of improvements they made with support from the 2017 Fulton Block Builders Block Challenge. They used the matching grant program to update windows and add new landscaping to their front lawn. The deadline for pre-applications for the 2018 Block Challenge is March 16. For more information visit  www.fultonblockbuilders.com .

The Eggletons stand in front of improvements they made with support from the 2017 Fulton Block Builders Block Challenge. They used the matching grant program to update windows and add new landscaping to their front lawn. The deadline for pre-applications for the 2018 Block Challenge is March 16. For more information visit www.fultonblockbuilders.com.

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.

DeMar 913 Utica 10.JPG
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 https://www.fultonblockbuilders.com/info/ 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.

The Work is Starting and Fulton Block Builders are Happily Writing Checks to Residents

Audrey and Chuck Avery just finished repairing their side porch and replacing the rotted floor. “Chuck and I have to say that the experience with the Fulton Block Builders was awesome.  We were so pleased with Heather, Alyssa, Penny and Linda. We were glad we could obtain the funding for our side porch, which was in desperate need of replacement. All our neighbors who are participating feel the same way about this wonderful organization. We thank FBB so much and look forward to working with them in the future. “said Audrey.

Ed Kasperek is another homeowner that recently completed his renovations. A recap of his improvements includes; resealed the driveway, stained the whole house, put up new gutters where needed, new shutters, new flowers-hanging plants and perennials, new pots, new screens on 2 front bedroom windows, caulking around garage door-found big open gaps between siding and molding saving on rotting door frames.    “I really enjoyed working with Linda and Dennis of FBB to get my home back in shape. I also would like to say thanks to FBB for helping my neighbors with their projects. I have talked to some neighbors that missed out this year and will apply next year.” remarked Ed.

The FBB Block Challenge is well under way for 2017, with 22 different neighborhoods committed to make exterior improvements and revitalize their properties.  Each awarded property owner in a Challenge Block will receive a dollar-for-dollar match on exterior improvements (approved in the application), up to $1,000. If $500 is spent, a $250 match will be made. If $2,000 or more is spent the match will be $1,000. (minus taxes).

Fulton Block Challenge Grant Recipients Announced, Projects to Move Forward This Summer

By Tim Lyman news@fultonvalleynews.com

Fulton Block Builders reached a pivotal moment in its first year of operations this week: deciding which blocks will receive funding for the first-ever Fulton Block Challenge.

The block challenge is a grassroots program that incentivizes Fulton property owners to perform curb-appeal exterior renovations on their homes. FBB will match approximately half of the amount that these residents invest into such projects, with a maximum reimbursement of $1,000.

Of the 178 homes that originally applied for funding in the preliminary and final applications, 161 homes, or 22 blocks, are slated to receive funds from the organization.

Fulton Block Builders (FBB) Administrative Director Linda Eagan said that, as a result of the Block Challenge, neighbors who hadn’t spoken for years have come together and gotten to know each other better, spreading the sense of community Eagan said she’s always wanted to see.

“The neighborliness is perfect,” said Eagan, adding this was her favorite part of seeing everything come together. “It’s more than I could have hoped for.”  

The awardees were publicly announced at an invitation-only kickoff dinner Thursday evening at the River Vista Center to launchFBB’s first renovation process. All work must be completed before Oct. 31.

The blocks that received funding have been separated into zones, with multiple blocks in each zone, and leaders in charge of managing each block.

The leaders whose blocks have been selected for funding are, in zone one: Stephen Cappelletti, Jennifer Scaringi and Dennis Merlino — who acts as the block leader for two separate blocks; zone two: Sandi McIntyre and Penny Halstead; and zone three: Audrey Avery, Sharlie Drake-Garcia, Deanna Michaels, Dennise Clark, Cheryl Baldwin, Dan Ritchie and Michelle Trepasso.

Zone four’s chosen block leaders are Sarah Sunday, Marty Gillard, Marion Ciciarelli and Delinda LaRock; zone five: Kathy Fitzpatrick, Heather Crofoot and Jean Ballard and Sharon Buske (the latter duo shares a role as block leader); and zone six: Michelle Narad and Pat Marino.  

Block awards range from $2,477.50 to $12,200, according to Eagan.

A staple of this program is a group of six target areas, not to be confused with the above zones, set in each of the city’s six wards. Although living in one of these target areas makes one’s application more competitive, it doesn’t guarantee funding, nor do residents need to live in a target area in order to apply.

Of the six target areas, blocks in the first five of them received funding, and two blocks near the sixth target area received money, as well.

At the kickoff dinner, awardees received a letter noting how much they received and which hardware stores, garden centers and other businesses to go to for discounts. So far, some local businesses FBB has arrangements with include Northern ACE Home Center, Ontario Orchards, and Burke’s Home Center.

“We’ve been pleasantly surprised every step of the way with this whole process,” said Eagan, who said she had initially expected everything to take more time.

She said she sent a message to block leaders, congratulating them and wishing them well.

“They are true leaders in the community,” said Eagan. “We look forward to the trends they will set.”

She said Fulton Block Builders is as much about making Fulton beautiful again as it is about creating a sense of community and pride.

“Never underestimate Fulton,” said Eagan, when asked what this experience has taught her. “They’ll surprise you at every turn.”

Fulton Block Builders Visits Fulton Lion's Club

FULTON, NY – Linda Eagan, administrative director, Fulton Block Builders, made a presentation at at the Fulton Lions club’s April meeting. Eagan outlined the grassroots neighborhood revitalization program, which has exceeded its first year fundraising goals and received more than 200 pre-applications for participation. Approved neighborhood groups receive reimbursement of up to $1,000 for renovations to their homes.


Joining her is Fulton Lions President Dave Guyer. The Fulton Lions Club, also known for their Lions Loot Sweepstakes, (April 30), Lions Mane Event Comedy Night, and annual Duck Derby, provides financial assistance for those in need of eyeglasses, eye exams, and hearing aids to residents in the Greater Fulton area. For more information, visit www.fultonlionsclub.com, or find them on Facebook under Fulton, NY Lions.

Fulton Block Builders Complete Fundraising Match for $100,000 Grant

FULTON, NY – “We did it, Fulton!”

“Local businesses have taken the Fulton Block Builders over their fundraising goal! Kenwell Corporation, Mimi’s Diner, Eastern Shore Associates, Patterson Warehousing, and Bellinger Auto Sales & Service have all donated to the Fulton Block Builders, collectively putting FBB over our goal,” said Linda Eagan, FBB Administrative Director.

Realizing the goal meant matching a $100,000 commitment from the Richard S. Shineman Foundation to jump start the grassroots organization in its first year.

“It’s just wonderful,” said Fulton Mayor, Ronald Woodward Sr. “Fulton Block Builders is one of so many amazing volunteer groups in our city that are working to raise the quality of life for the people of Fulton. Kudos to Linda Eagan for her efforts, it’s very appreciated.”

The Fulton Block Builders, led by Linda Eagan, is a volunteer group that has worked tirelessly to spread the message of neighborhood revitalization, pride and togetherness.

Based on the Healthy Neighbors Initiative, the program will allow groups of property owners in neighborhoods throughout the city of Fulton to invest in exterior home improvements with the opportunity to recover a portion of their expense.

Participating residents can spend up to $1,000 to receive a dollar-for-dollar match for such improvements as painting, porch repair, mailboxes, exterior lighting, landscaping, sidewalk repair, and much more.

Although the fundraising goal is complete, donations are still encouraged and accepted as more money raised means more residents are able to participate.

To qualify, 50% of neighbors on one block consisting of homeowners and tenants alike with the property owners consent, must agree to submit a pre-application.

Target areas, predetermined neighborhoods within the city that are believed to see great benefit with some exterior improvements, will be given special consideration although any neighborhood within the city is encouraged to apply. Target areas have been announced and can be found on the FBB website.

Due to a very successful fundraising campaign and adverse weather in the month of March that may have made it difficult to consult with neighbors, the deadline to submit pre-applications has been extended until Friday, April 14.

Once pre-applications are submitted, FBB volunteer members will visit each applicant’s block to better establish a proposal moving forward to submit a final application.

Final applications are due May 1 and the chosen applications will be awarded by May 15.

Participants then have until October 31 to complete their intended improvement projects.

To help during the process, FBB has paired with local hardware stores and garden centers to offer discounts to participants.

Additional bonuses are available for houses on corner lots as well as participants that utilize a historic based paint palette designed by architectural historian and Fulton native, Susan Arena.

To further promote community togetherness, part of the application process includes planning an event, such as a block party, with the participating neighbors to celebrate the completed work.

Mayor Woodward noted that all of the city’s aldermen have been working hard in each of the six wards to ensure all residents are aware of the opportunity and many have spoken with interested homeowners.

“I think it’s one of the best programs the city of Fulton has had in a long time,” first ward alderman, Tom Kenyon said during a recent council meeting. “I don’t know how anybody on the blocks can pass that up. It’s going to make the city look real nice,” he said.

The word is spreading and as a result, so is the excitement.

“I always believed that the Healthy Neighborhood Initiative was going to work in Fulton, but the community has surpassed my expectations in so many ways. I am inspired each and every day by phone calls, e-mails and donations from people excited to see the Fulton Block Builder program get started. Support has come from the city limits and beyond. It seems the greater Fulton community was ready for a program like this to get started and have success. There is a lot of energy in Fulton and people are ready and willing to share it. If you listen very quietly, you will hear it…the buzz of excited people,” Linda Eagan said.

Pre-Applications are Being Extended To Friday April 14, 2017.

Fulton Block Builders fundraising has been so successful that the deadline for Pre-Applications is being extended to, Friday April 14, 2017, to accommodate more Blocks wishing to participate.

The Fulton Block Builders (FBB) made the determination to extend the due date for the Pre-Applications to Friday April 14th. We have decided to do this for two reasons. First and foremost, this is because of the enormously successful Fundraising Campaign. Since the money is available, the FBB Committees would like to see as many blocks as possible participating. The second reason for the extension is because March gave us two weekends of adverse weather that made it difficult for people to get out and talk to their neighbors.

Even though the deadline is being extended we are STRONGLY encouraging blocks to turn in their Pre-Applications as soon as possible so that the Ambassadors can begin helping each Block with their Final Application.

City residents who would like to participate in the program need to form a neighborhood group with a minimum of 50% of the property owners in their vicinity. The group can include homeowners or landlords. Once formed, just sign the simple pre-application form and submit it as a group. The matching grant funding will cover expenses for exterior property improvements to groups of homeowners in a single block, throughout the city of Fulton. Aside from matching grant funding, participating homeowners have access to discounts by using the historical paint colors and from sponsoring hardware & garden centers.

Each participating property owner in a Challenge Block is eligible to receive a dollar-for-dollar match on exterior improvements (visible from the street), up to $1,000. If $500 is spent, a $250 match will be made. If $2,000 or more is spent the match will be $1,000. (minus taxes). There is no “catch”, there is no income requirement, there is no payback! Each block simply needs to organize, sign you name to a pre-application, talk and plan with your neighbors and get ready to start making improvements this spring and summer. All work must be completed by October 31, 2017 to qualify for the matching funds.

IMPORTANT DATES REGARDING 2017 Fulton Block Builders:

  • Friday April 14 – Pre-applications are due

  • Monday May 1 – Final applications are due

  • By Monday May 15th – FBB grant awardees announced