A new bench is expected to become a gathering place for neighbors who live along Stenten Street.

A new bench is expected to become a gathering place for neighbors who live along Stenten Street.

The bench will be paid for with a neighborhood development grant, one of four recently awarded by the Worthington Community Relations Commission (CRC).

Stenten Street neighbors applied and were approved for a $496 grant to purchase and install a bench and a planter along the small side street in the Worthington Estates subdivision.

"It's a wonderful street," said Kim Wenden, a Stenten resident who helped put together the grant application.

People on the street help take care of each other, often watching the few children on the street. They have two or three block parties each year, and often have impromptu gatherings.

The street is also heavily used by walkers, and the Stenten neighbors hope they will feel welcome to sit for a while, she said.

Forty-or-so neighbors got together recently and voted to purchase a cedar and black bench made of a recycled, graffiti-resistant material. It will be placed along the street lawn.

City spokesperson Anne Brown said the bench application met all the criteria for the neighborhood grants.

"We want neighborhoods to work together on events and programs to build neighborhood cohesiveness," she said.

Nine applications were received this year, and a committee of CRC members and city staff decided to award nearly $1,800 in grants.

This is the second year for the program.

The Pinney Village Community Partnership, formerly known as the Garden Estates Community Partnership, was awarded its second grant.

In 2008, the grant was used to construct a neighborhood bulletin board, design a logo, improve its newsletter and develop a Web site.

This year, a $300 grant will be used for supplies to update the bulletin board, purchase and distribute logo stickers and purchase supplies to welcome new neighbors.

The neighborhood of approximately 214 people is located in the area of Pinney Drive and West South Street.

A $500 neighborhood grant was awarded to residents of Emco Place to assist in expanding their neighborhood block party to include Kertess Avenue and Northland Road.

The CRC encourages block parties as a way to get neighbors to become acquainted and a starting point for other activities such as neighborhood associations.

"Ultimately, we hope these grants lead to organizations," Brown said.

The grants are also intended to support already-active associations such as the Colonial Hills Civic Association, which received a $460 grant this year to print an updated Colonial Hills directory.

The directory will contain listings for the 700 households in Colonial Hills. It is designed to help neighbors connect with each other.

Grant applications are accepted each year beginning Jan. 1. Recipients are announced in May.