Rocky Fork Enterprise

Neighbors pitch in to paint own street signs

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Jeff Smith (on ladder), Kim Smith and David Burns paint street-post signs to improve the neighborhood at Gary Lee and Sierra drives.MARLA K. KUHLMAN/THISWEEKNEWS

Rocky Fork Heights-Chesterfield Estates residents hope to spread community pride, as well as paint, in improving neighborhood street sign posts.

Seventy-four-year-old Alveda "Snook" Bates, aka the heartbeat of her neighborhood, helped launch the idea to improve her subdivision by painting the faded vertical street signs.

Budget cuts have reduced the upkeep work being done by city personnel.

"There were only two signs done from the spring of last year, and I thought, 'This is crazy. I'm going to do it,' " she said. "Once I started, it sparked interest. Neighbors said it looks good, and I said let's do some more. It wasn't difficult to engage people. People don't know what they can and can't do. That's why neighborhood associations are important."

She said the painting of the posts became a real collaboration in the neighborhood.

Those who participated in the improvement project were David Burns, Dave Oliva, Becky Kneeland, Dave Schroeder, Jeff and Kim Smith and Zoe Turner.

"David Burns painted first at Gary Lee Drive, and I promoted it throughout both neighborhoods," Bates said. "It put an amazing touch on the neighborhood for everyone to be proud. I didn't realize the influence it would have on other people who were participating. Once it was finished, they looked so nice. You could see their pride.

"I'm as happy about the community pride as I am in the posts being painted. I love people lifting up their own neighborhood."

Oliva said Bates had mentioned to him that residents were taking it upon themselves to beautify the old and faded street signs.

"I only did a small part, but there are others who have really chipped in," he said. "We just think it is something that other neighborhoods in Gahanna might want to consider as it is actually pretty easy and not expensive."

Bates handed off remaining paint that was purchased privately to the Rocky Fork North neighborhood.

Gahanna city service director Dottie Franey told ThisWeek the city would provide paint and brushes to any subdivision wanting to spruce up street signs and/or streetlights.

Bates said about 10 signs were finished in her neighborhood June 23.

"The community worked together to lift these older neighborhoods to make it look fresh," she said. "It's a renewal of the neighborhood. I hope it catches fire throughout the city. It's about your own neighborhood. It's not about (complaining that) 'the city should do it.' This is something that children can do."

Bates said one neighbor insisted his daughter work with her to learn about community service.

"I told her I'd take a picture of her, and when school starts, she can do her own paper about community projects," she said. "I'm not keeping track of who does what. When people stick their toes in water, they're empowered. They're happy about it. I'm happy to have the posts painted, and the neighbors are, too.

"My one neighbor said, 'Every time I drive by, I feel proud.'"