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Aiken starts transformation of Crosland Park

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AIKEN --- Cathie Ciani and Carmen Roa are proud members of the Crosland Neighborhood Association, and lately they've been looking forward to a transformation near their homes.

"I'm hoping that eventually we'll be able to get more and more people involved in the renovations and make this into the beautiful neighborhood it can be," said Ms. Ciani, who moved to Crosland Park 10 months ago from New Jersey to retire. "We're near a school. It would be a great place for young people to start their families, and it's a good place to retire."

The neighborhood, on Aiken's north side, is the site of a $1.5 million city plan to renovate 150 homes.

Construction hasn't started, but the city recently purchased about 25 homes. The goal is to renovate the homes, then sell them to those in need at prices that at least equal the city's cost of purchasing and improving the property.

The city has done some clearing at the entrance and plans to add plants for beautification, said Gary Yount, the president of the Crosland Neighborhood Association. The association will use a Palmetto Pride grant for the beautification.

The city has options to purchase 80 more properties in Crosland Park and is part of a consortium of area churches and nonprofit agencies.

Crosland Park was built in 1952 as housing for workers at Savannah River Site. In recent years, officials say, it has had problems with crime. Aiken Assistant City Manager Richard Pearce said the work in Crosland Park goes hand in hand with a bigger city plan to rejuvenate certain areas.

He said the idea of breathing new life into older areas started in the early 1990s.

Similar improvement projects include the rebuilding of the city's old railroad depot at Union Street and Park Avenue and renovation of the old Immanuel School on York Street as part of a planned Center for African-American History, Art & Culture.

"We really expect within the next couple of weeks to find out from the state whether we've been awarded grant money to use in Crosland Park," Mr. Pearce said.

The grant money would reduce the cost of a renovated home from an estimated $85,000 to $65,000, Mr. Pearce said.

Reach Preston Sparks at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.

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nofrillls13
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nofrillls13 07/01/09 - 06:52 am
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What a waste of money. That

What a waste of money. That place is filled with trouble with nobody wanting it to be better. Any work done there will be destroyed in a matter of months. I've worked on homes in the park and the punk kids come right behind you and destroy your work so you have more to repair then when you started. Sell the house's to low income families with affordable loans and make it a condition of the sale that the exterior has to meet a certain expectation that is predetermined. Make the residents want to get rid of the troublemakers. When they are responsible for the repairs it won’t be tolerated. It will be easy to make an arrest because everybody will be pointing fingers at the people costing them money…

moneyman1035
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moneyman1035 07/01/09 - 08:30 am
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I lived in Crosland Park from

I lived in Crosland Park from 1979 until 1987 It was a great place to live, I made alot friends there and alot of the families who now live in Woodside, Houndslake, and Gem Lakes, started out living in Crosland Park. I think the city should help clean it up. It started going down hill when alot of the old original owner's passed away and investors started buying the homes for rentals and when those low income apartments were built there.

curly123053
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curly123053 07/01/09 - 08:39 am
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Any detractors of the city's

Any detractors of the city's plan should drive through Toole Hill and the old Camellia Trailer Park and see how the city have turned around those 2 neighborhoods. Having worked EMS back when those neighborhoods were drug havens and seen how much the area is improved today speaks for itself as far as I am concerned. The city took two sinking areas and made them thriving neighborhoods. I say good luck with Crosland Park and I hope they get the same results.

myopinion001
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myopinion001 07/01/09 - 10:12 am
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These were good starter homes

These were good starter homes for young people back in the 70's and there were lots of the older generation and a good mix. The 90's brought a different class of people in (no class thugs and drug dealers) that made it near impossible for anyone not from that culture to get their investments out of their homes. The city put in the new playground there a few years ago that serves as a great place for drug deals to take place. It is nice that the city is going to provide a better class slum for illegal activity, otherwise it won't work unless they get the crime under control in this area and the people that panhandle in front of McDonalds, etc. relocated elsewhere.

myopinion001
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myopinion001 07/01/09 - 10:15 am
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I also notice the two women

I also notice the two women heading this up are both white, is there any input from anyone in the black community or is it just a white thing being done to help the blacks that need a new house given to them.

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