East Liverpool Neighborhood Group Seeks Help with Mission

EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio – “Visit the spot and you will be charmed.”

Those words were used 125 years ago by W. L. Thompson in describing an addition to the city where new residents were being encouraged to build homes overlooking the Ohio River on “the most desirable residence lots now for sale in East Liverpool.”

Today, the Thompson Hill Addition still boasts many of the elegant, sprawling homes of that era, with a magnificent view of the river where three states meet.

Unfortunately, some portions of the picturesque neighborhood are showing signs of the economic downslide of the tri-state area, with homes and properties needing improvements.

About three years ago, a group named the Thompson Hill Neighborhood Association formed and approached City Council with its plans for the Thompson Hill neighborhood, which includes not only Thompson Avenue but Vine Street, Ravine Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

The association was the idea of resident Jim Casto, who moved back to the area 25 years ago after serving in the military and being involved with business in the Atlanta area.

The view from Jim Casto’s home at the top of the hill is enough to make him want to remain in East Liverpool.

He now lives at the corner of the Thompson, Vine and Pennsylvania Avenue corridor in a home that overlooks the river, with a view he admits is mesmerizing.

The bike trail planned for the city will traverse past his front porch when completed.

Last year, the association addressed City Council with a printed workup plan describing its mission, focusing on eliminating the blight that has caused unsightliness and safety concerns on some of the properties.

Members pointed to the need for cleaning and weeding sidewalks; planting gardens; addressing broken windows and loose and falling chimney bricks; eliminating trees growing in gutters; ridding properties of abandoned tires; animals entering empty homes; and more.

At that time, the volunteers indicated their desire to address these issues with the assistance of the city enforcing ordinances and initiating proper property maintenance.

Last week, Thompson Avenue resident Tracy Hyatt again addressed City Council to update members on how the group has fared in the past year, saying, “The association continues to be alive and well,” but needs help from the city in furthering its mission. 

Jim Casto’s goal for the Thompson Hill Neighborhood Association is to “run the slumlords out” so homes in the area can be as well-kept as his.

Hyatt said in the past year, four houses have been sold in the neighborhood, with new occupants moving in. One house on Vine Street is being “flipped” and undergoing a major renovation for future resale, and another house on the street is getting a porch renovation. A formerly abandoned home was purchased and is undergoing a complete landscape update.

Hyatt said these projects represent thousands of dollars being invested by owners in the neighborhood.

The group has also launched a “neighbor in need” project in which members look around for visible signs someone in the neighborhood may be unable to do cleanup work around their own home.

On May 30, five members got together at one such home and removed overgrown weeds, leaves and shrubbery.

The association didn’t know why the resident was unable to do the work, Hyatt said. “We didn’t know. It wasn’t our business, but it was a real success story.”

She said members have a “boots on the ground” mentality, talking to neighbors about their actions, making sure they know about the city’s claw truck that picks up large, discarded items and discussing with them, for example, that it might be better to remove tires from a yard, and a living room couch isn’t necessarily the best idea for porch furniture. 

Hyatt told City Council the association recently bridged a relationship with one neighbor, resulting in the removal of tires and old sinks from that property.

“Our goal is to raise awareness of home ownership,” Hyatt said.

Each year, the association also hosts a Halloween party for the neighborhood.

This house was empty when Thompson Hill Neighborhood Association member Jim Casto decided to purchase it and improve the home and its landscaping to attract a good neighbor.

Casto is a bit more up-front about his reason for purchasing the large, vacant Victorian home next to his, which is undergoing a rehab and complete landscape makeover.

“I want to keep the slumlords out,” he said. He hopes a new owner with the association’s same ideals will come along to purchase it.

Hyatt told council members that the association receives a “great response” from City Hall. “But we don’t see a lot of boots on the ground from you when we’re working so hard in downtown and our neighborhood. We’re begging you for your help. Tell us what you can do and can’t do. We really need some more help.”

After the meeting, Hyatt said that by addressing City Council and expressing its needs, the hope is they will soon see council members out knocking on doors in their own neighborhoods, asking residents, “What do you need?” and helping with neighborhood cleanups and other concerns.

“That’s our goal. We would like this to be a partnership,” she said, offering praise to Mayor Bobby Smith, Service-Safety Director Bill Jones, Councilman Jeff Kreefer and out-of-town landlord Dave Damaso for their continued assistance.

During the meeting, Councilman Brian Kerr promised to be more active with such projects, and Councilman Scott Barrett gave Hyatt his business card to contact him.

“We did raise some awareness,” she said.

Pictured at top: The new owner of one of the historic Thompson Avenue homes has brought in a dumpster to rid the property of unwanted overgrowth and other unsightly items.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.