Eveleth's 2009 Comprehensive Plan recommends that the City develop a proactive blight reduction program that engages and assists community members in removing blight and stopping blight before it happens. Neighborhood revitalization will greatly assist Eveleth in meeting this recommendation, not only for the affected neighborhood but as an example for the entire city. The “Olde Town Eveleth” neighborhood selected was first on the minds of the City Council/HRA, and City Staff, and all are in full agreement that this neighborhood would greatly benefit from a rehabilitation program. On April 7, 2009, the Eveleth City Council formally approved the "proposed neighborhood” for this neighborhood revitalization program.
The City of Eveleth has prepared well for the Olde Town Eveleth neighborhood revitalization project, setting the stage for success. Eveleth has partnered with ARDC to complete a revision to the City's Comprehensive Plan and with AEOA to be the community's non-profit developer. Eveleth has engaged the Range Readiness Housing Expeditor team to help identify program partners and resources and has begun identifying opportunities to organize community members in the targeted neighborhood. Greater Minnesota Housing Fund has provided $20,000 in technical assistance money to assist in the upfront costs of the work including community organizing and funding application development.
The overall plan for Olde Town Eveleth is to engage residents, provide them with a “menu” of opportunities as well as hands-on assistance to improve their properties, and in the process continue the community-building begun by Eveleth Horizons and other community organizations. In the summer of 2009 a block party barbeque and “energy fair” was held at the Hippodrome. This event pulled together over 30 people who accessed applications for Energy Assistance, home weatherization, the $500 mini-grant program provided by the City, and many freebies to take home. In December 2009 another gathering was held at City Hall to provide additional resources for Energy Assistance and home rehabilitation as well as energy saver holiday lights and winter care items such as shovels and sidewalk salt. Future opportunities may include door-to-door surveys, additional access to “free” home care resources and utility company incentives, and other engagement opportunities.
All partners are confident that a well-organized and implemented community engagement strategy will provide the foundation needed to assist neighborhood members in effectively removing blight and stopping it before it happens.