Trying to bring back the neighborhood feeling

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Margaret Moffitt Croom remembers how it was to grow up in what she refers to as "Central Niles" in the 70s.
She said everyone in her neighborhood knew each other back then; parents knew the children, children knew the parents, children knew children and parents knew parents.
But that's not the case today, and many people, not only here, often don't even know their next door neighbor.
Which is also why Croom is trying to establish a Community Neighborhood Association in the area that she grew up in -- and has fond memories from.
A neighborhood association program is designed to help in the appearance of the community, promote home ownership, and provide families with a safer and cleaner place to live.
Her first step was to organize a picnic in cooperation with the Greater NIles Community Development Corporation for residents living in the Howard and Seventh streets area on Sunday a week ago.
A week before the picnic, Croom walked the neighborhood and distributed flyers informing residents about the picnic, to which many children came.
Approximately 60 to 75 youths between seven and 16 years old attended the picnic, which was made possible by donations for activities and food from many local area businesses and residents.
Croom was somewhat disappointed with the small parent turnout, but glad to see so many children at the event.
Children at the event bobbed for apples, did face painting, tossed bozo balls, bracelet beading, hair braiding, coloring and many other fun activities, which gave the children a chance to get to know each other better.
Tim Batton, executive director of the CDC, was pleased with the turnout at the picnic.
He said the picnic was an effort to find out whether people were interested in establishing a neighborhood association and to gather contact information from the people who attended it.
A follow up meeting is likely to be held in October, Batton said.
Although the CDC helped organize the picnic, Batton said the CDC is only a support resource in the process of forming a neighborhood association.
Croom hopes there is enough support in the community she is trying to bring back together to establish a neighborhood association.

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