The Hammond Downtown Development District has been preparing for a new project that will seek volunteers to revitalize and transform two city blocks.
“Build a Better Block” was scheduled to take place over two days, Friday, March 20 and Saturday, March 21, but was postponed.
On the first day of the event, volunteers will help paint bike lanes and crosswalks, refurbish vacant lots and buildings, install a dog park, clean up the area around South Cypress Street and more. Day two’s festivities will include a Block Party to celebrate the completed work.
Chelsea Tallo, executive director for Hammond’s DDD, shared that a former intern from the university, now a current employee, reached out with the idea of bringing this event to the city.
Tallo explained that the Better Block event is new to Hammond but is an existing project that other communities have completed before.
“Small towns around the country have installed Better Blocks, and we just felt like it was our time to make a difference,” said Tallo. “This is nothing like we’ve ever done, but we’ve seen small communities around the country have success with these types of events. We’re excited to try something new.”
To plan for the project, the DDD has held four public meetings to discuss both short and long term goals for the community.
“Along with the temporary actions for the event, participants also came up with some long term goals like better sidewalks, lighting and drainage,” shared Tallo. “We need the community to come out on Friday to bring the place to life. We’ve got a lot to paint and a lot of yard work to do.”
According to Tallo, people of all ages can sign up to help out at the event. Volunteers can bring equipment such as rakes, shovels, gloves and the like.
Tallo explained what volunteers should expect from the experience whenever the event is rescheduled.
“Volunteers can expect on Friday to clean up the area, specifically the landscaping, install signs, install murals, paint concrete slabs, paint intersections and more,” explained Tallo. “Children can expect to help paint, make Downtown flags and more. Volunteers should expect to really have a part in getting these blocks cleaned up.”
The Block Party will include all the work from the previous day on display, in addition to live music, vendors, food, a Chalk Walk for kids, the grand opening for Pedigo Furniture and other activities.
Tallo expressed her sentiments on how the Better Block event will impact the city and the community within.
“I think this event will show our community that we don’t need to wait for someone else to make a difference in our city,” shared Tallo. “We can greatly impact our community if we all do it together. All of the residents living in the Iowa District, the neighborhood southeast of Downtown, will have a cleaner and safer way to walk to Downtown thanks to what we’re doing for Better Block.”
Anyone interested in volunteering to “Build a Better Block” in Hammond can sign up at the link on Hammond DDD’s website.