At the corner of East 11th and Wallace streets, the East Side Eagles Neighborhood Watch group is turning an empty lot into a community park. It's all thanks to a grant from the Perry 200, and it's something that watch member Pamela Simmelkjaer says is needed, to beautify her neighborhood.
"Erie is a small, hometown-setting, it's a tourist town. We don't want to be known for the violence, juvenile gun violence. We want people to come here, bring money, want to build here, grow here in Erie."
Simmelkjaer said she's tired of the all negativity the East Side receives. Just last year, she said they had the highest crime rate of juvenile offenders in the City of Erie. This summer, she says, she's looking to change that.
"We have some of the juveniles that we get on probation, I ask to bring them back in our neighborhood. So this summer, you're going to see a lot of cleaning up, they're going to put back where they messed up at."
This is the second spot in the neighborhood that the East Side Eagles have turned into a community park. And since the first one last week, they've already seen the positive impact it's had on the community.
"As we were starting to build on the lots, we watched our neighbors start cutting their grass, everybody wanting to start cleaning up and that's what it's really about," said Simmelkjaer. "Even if they're not here helping us, they're still cleaning up their yard."
Kids throughout the neighborhood are also taking part in creating the garden. Elaine Kolski says it's not only good for them, but getting involved can have a positive impact on the entire family.
"It's very important to get all the kids, all the adults and just have a good time and show them you can do nice things and it's fun to plant and just to be all together."
Simmelkjaer and Kolski both said they hope this garden brings a sense of peace to the neighborhood.