The community improvement group Avenue & Main in Niles, having notched many small accomplishments during its short life, is now poised for an expansion. Based on its track record, a successful expansion should be expected and more people, including city leaders and residents, should support the organization.
The group recently held its annual meeting to review 2012 and plan for 2013. About 50 people attended. The attendance figure alone is evidence that Avenue & Main has momentum.
That momentum stems from its successes. The Southside Blockwatch in the 4th Ward is in its 18th month. Flower gardens at key spots throughout the city are more visible signs of Avenue & Main's presence. There has been progress in beautifying the downtown. The group has held many community activities such as Christmas decorating contests for local businesses, meet-and-greets with government officials and safety days for families.
The advantage of the blockwatch came to light last year when its captain, Barry Steffey, and others in the group helped police catch a suspect. Carrie Kirby, an organizing member, also pointed out how the group was able to call leaders to action in getting an area of the 4th Ward better lighting after an act of violence there.
Avenue & Main as a whole has successfully called leaders to action with creating and enforcing zoning laws to better the city.
This year should be the most exciting in the three-year-old group's history. Members are planning a Harry Stevens Day to honor one of the most accomplished city residents ever. The London native created the sports concessions industry and provided catering at Major League Baseball stadiums and horse racetracks around the country and in Mexico. Stevens is credited with inventing the hot dog and modern baseball scorecard.
That's a lot to celebrate. It's important to remind residents of how much pride they should have in their home town and inform students that they can come from Niles and go on to impact the world.
First, though, is impacting the community. As it begins to launch another block watch, this one in the 2nd Ward, Avenue & Main continues to have a positive impact on the community.