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Will Byerman, Everett Parker-Noblitt, Davis Zimmerman, and Darby Greenwell create a cardboard bench for the 20th Street Pop-Up Block.

Center for Great Neighborhoods Seeks Public Input with Creative Event

A new community concept to revive Covington's 20th Street drew students from all over the Commonwealth to help with the effort. 
Kentucky YMCA Youth Association's Y-Corps Service to the Bluegrass group is on a four-day long service mission visiting communities around the state. Its first stop was 20th Street between Madison and the old St. Elizabeth Hospital. There, Rachel Hastings from the Center for Great Neighborhoods gave the 24 students and their leaders a tour of the area. She talked about the concerns for the neighborhood and efforts to enact a zoning change to bring businesses, sidewalk changes, and slower traffic to the street. To get a zoning change, the Center for Great Neighborhoods needs input from the community. They came up with an idea for a 20th Street Pop-Up Block to engage local residents.
"We wanted to create a fun concept, and we thought, maybe we could just meet on the street," Hastings said.
That's where the Y-Corps came in to help with preparations for the meeting. The students were asked to make signs and cardboard furniture. The signs will be set up at stations that lead from the Pavilion at Kenton, formerly St. Elizabeth Hospital, down to Madison Avenue. Each signs asks residents to answer different questions such as what would make them feel safer and what businesses would help improve the community. The students also made cardboard furniture, planters, and trashcans. The cardboard pieces will be placed at the old vacuum shop between Greenup and Pine Streets. The idea is that residents can move the pieces around to create inviting spaces that could be incorporated into future plans.
Hastings said having the extra help allows the Center for Great Neighborhoods to try to engage residents in a new way.
"This is the first time for the Pop-Up Block. We are taking the conversation to the street, and we couldn't do it alone," Hastings said. "I could never do all of this stuff. None of us have the time to build cardboard furniture, and there are no instructions so I think young people are good about trying something new which is great."
Jim Recktenwald, Kentucky YMCA Youth Association's West Regional Director, said he was drawn to this effort because it is the first of its kind in the area, and it dovetails with the Y Corps' service theme. 
"We are doing a comparison of urban and rural communities in the Commonwealth and trying to get at the heart of what do all communities hope for, what do all communities share whether they are urban or rural," Recktenwald said. "Whether we look out our window at a cornfield or a skyscraper, there are some things that are universal that people care about. We'll be traveling to both types of communities, and we hope that we can provide real value in our service to them."
The 20th Street Pop-Up Block event is schedule for Sunday, July 15 at 1 p.m.
-Staff report
Photo Provided  - Y-Corps students - Will Byerman, Everett Parker-Noblitt, Davis Zimmerman, and Darby Greenwell create a cardboard bench for the 20th Street Pop-Up Block.