Path Home Shows 2009 Show Archive May 2009 Show 0922 Neighborhood Alliance

Neighborhood Alliance

Too often inner city neighborhoods face decline as homes age and residents move to newer houses out in the suburbs. We show you how when residents work with local government, established neighborhoods can still flourish.
Neighborhood Alliance

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Cleveland UCD (Urban Conservation District)

Show Dates

Show 0922: Neighborhood Alliance

Air date: May 31, 2009



Rob:  Well too often inner city neighborhoods face decline as homes age and residents move to newer houses out in the suburbs.  Yet that’s not the fate of the Cleveland Neighborhood in the heart of Oklahoma City.  As I found, when residents work with local government, established neighborhoods can still flourish.

Rob:  Jeanie Ruedy takes pride in her home, and in her neighborhood.

Jeanie Ruedy:  My dad built the home in 1937.

Rob:  And she’s lived her ever since, watching this neighborhood change over the years.

Jeanie Ruedy:  It was vacant land clear on up to what is NW Classen now.  We had horses, and we pastured them on that land up on NW Classen.

Rob:  That, today, is the Cleveland Neighborhood, a group of well maintained moderately priced homes in the heart of Oklahoma City, where kids still walk to school, and neighbors still do their own yard work.  Dan Martin is president of the Cleveland Neighborhood Association.

Rob:  Why do you like living in a neighborhood like this?

Dan Martin:  Well, it’s conveniently located to downtown and to the malls, but it has a charm all its own.

Rob:  An idyllic place to live.  From manicured yards, to well-maintained homes, the Cleveland Neighborhood didn’t happen by accident.

Georgie Rasco:   In 44;21  Every city is really only as strong as its poorest neighborhood.

Rob:  Georgie Rasco is the executive director of the Neighborhood Alliance of Central Oklahoma, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating safe, attractive and healthy neighborhoods.

Georgie Rasco:  The city wants to attract someone, like Dell Corporation, or some other major corporation to come into town, they not only go and look for a good place to build their facility, but they look for neighborhoods where their employees want to live.  They drive around and look at average income homes.  This is where my secretaries are going to live, or where my linemen are going to live.  We want to have neighborhoods like that, that we’ll show off to businesses so they do locate in our city.  That makes economic sense for our community.

Rob:  Georgie what does it take for a neighborhood to be successful?

Georgie Rasco:  You have to be able to take ownership in your neighborhood, not just the home that you bought, or the home that you are renting or living in, but the people that live around you, the streets, the common areas, the green areas.  Take responsibility for all of that.  Think about all of that as an extended piece of your own property, because when someone comes to look at property in a neighborhood, to possibly buy property there, they have to drive through all of that before they ever get to your home.  So, they see everything around you from the shopping centers on the outskirts to the homes on the inside of the neighborhood.  And it’s your responsibility to help maintain all of that and keep it as pristine as you want it to be.

Rob:  It sound like just being a good neighbor.

Georgie Rasco:  Being a good neighbor is almost getting to be a lost art in some ways.

Rob:  That’s why a growing number of communities have started their own urban conservation districts, creating areas that establish standards above city code that help maintain a neighborhood’s integrity.

Dan Martin:  What that is, is like, it’s an overlay of additional ordinances, so it controls things, maybe motor homes, maybe carports, maybe satellite dishes.  I mean, things that typically, you know, things that can detract from appearance and the beauty and the charm of a neighborhood.

Rob:  Are these rules difficult to enforce?

Dan Martin:  Well, it’s, it takes effort.  I mean, with, we have a UCD officer that contacts people if there’s, if there’s a violation.  I mean, we are not like Gestapo.

Rob:  In fact, Dan says a friendly little nudge can go a long way when neighbors know their neighbors, and everyone works together.

Dan Martin:  We just had an Easter egg hunt.  We have Spring fling, fourth of July, ice cream social.  We do national night out.

Rob:  Creating a community that in many ways takes care of itself, and preserves older homes for generations to come.

Dan Martin:  Cleveland Neighborhood is a place where young people are, young couples, would like to move into, start a family, and stay.

Rob:  And taking care of some historic or older neighborhoods is almost like the ultimate recycling.

Georgie Rasco:  It is; because people are finally becoming acclimated once again to living in the inner city.  They realize how nice it is to live close to the things that are going on downtown, and they’re moving back in to the inner city and to these old neighborhoods that were ignored for many, many years.  But that also means coming back in and realizing that we also have to kind of keep up and maintain the green spaces and the things around those areas and those older neighborhoods.  But they have so much to give when we do come back in and start caring for those older neighborhoods.

Rob:  Which is exactly what the Cleveland Neighborhood has done, by turning what was a drainage ditch, into a median that looks a lot like a park.  In fact, the gazebo there has been the sight of numerous neighborhood events, including weddings, and even a funeral.  When a long time president of the neighborhood association passed away, the neighbors said their goodbyes in a service under the neighborhood gazebo.  Now if you would like to know more about starting an urban conservation district, the Neighborhood Alliance is a great place to start.  And we have a link to their website, at under this week’s stories.