Cleveland’s Broadway Slavic Village neighborhood was dramatically impacted by the housing market crash. According to Slavic Village Development’s December 2013 survey of vacant property, some 1,500 lots in the community remain unoccupied.
This abandonment has led to a loss of tree canopy among the properties: The demolition of houses resulted in degraded soil while empty lots permitted the growth of intrusive plants and illegal dumping, all of which have added stress to the area’s urban forest.
This is only the most recent environmental disadvantage for the Slavic Village community. Since its establishment in the early 19th century, the neighborhood has been sullied by nearby industrial plants that have degraded the community’s air quality. Today, Broadway Slavic Village has one of the nation’s highest rates of asthma.
In an effort to counter these impacts and improve the environmental health of the community, Slavic Village Development is joining American Forests and the Alcoa Foundation in a Global ReLeaf project to plant 55 trees on abandoned land that spans nearly five acres.
Three smaller neighborhoods within the village will be the recipients of these trees. The first is the Willow area, which is among the most underserved parts of Broadway Slavic Village. The Regent section is another area targeted for restoration. This area lost more than 100 homes in the foreclosure crisis and predatory lending environment of the early 2000s. The final area that will benefit from the restoration project will complement the work of the Slavic Village Recovery Area Project, which rents and sells vacant single-family properties at affordable prices. The trees added to these lots will create street-edge plantings.
The initiative to restore Broadway Slavic Village’s tree canopy will help mitigate stormwater runoff and improve soil and air quality within these lots. The added tree canopy will enhance the environment through the reemergence of flora and fauna that have escaped industrial effects in the area.
The benefits of the canopy recovery will extend to the people of the Broadway Slavic Village as well. First and foremost, residents will have a renewed sense of pride in their community. The improved air quality will relieve those who suffer from respiratory diseases.
American Forests is proud to help Slavic Village Development achieve its vision of a vibrant, connected and diverse community.