By Tim Lyman firstname.lastname@example.org
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.”