Northwest Neighborhoods - Lyell Otis

Northwest Quadrant - Lyell OtisSebastian-Park-Group

Communal memory is important to the residents of the Lyell Otis Avery neighborhood. Several years ago, LONA, its neighborhood association, gathered its oldest residents in the local Neighborhood Service Center office and videotaped their stories about growing up in the neighborhood. LONA created a DVD from the interviews entitled The History of Lyell-Otis. In 2010, the group received a grant from the Rochester Area Foundation to produce another neighborhood history.

In their stories, a small bridge crossed the Erie Canal, later the old subway bed, now its eastern boundary at Dewey Avenue (Driving Park marks its boundary to the north, Lyell Avenue its south, and the city line to the west). Another resident remembered when Rochester’s only recorded tornado touched down on July 1, 1932 and destroyed a warehouse on Dewey Avenue and laid waste to 100 trees on Saratoga Avenue. 

Sebastian-Park-PlaqueLONA’s desire to honor its history led to the installation of a memorial plaque on Dewey Avenue that commemorates the men who built the Erie Canal and the Rochester subway. LONA looked to the future in renovating the Riley Park playground, between Orchard and Whitney Streets. With grants from the state and city, the Association gathered some 50 children to help with the rebuilding of the playground. 

Bordering Stenson Street, Sebastian Park is another green space the Neighborhood hopes to refurbish. The park is dedicated to Father Sebastian Contegiacomo, an Italian immigrant missionary of the Precious Blood who served Most Precious Blood Parish.

LONA is joined in its efforts at community building by the Glide, Isabel and Cameron Streets Block Clubs and the Sebastian Area Neighborhood Group (SANG).

The very active SANG, which includes Parkedge, Stenson, Planet and Polaris streets, began organizing in 2007 around neighborhood safety. First, they established the “eyes campaign” that entailed posting signs in home windows that alerted passersby that residents were keeping watch for suspicious activity. A recent $1,500 grant from the Rochester Area Foundation is helping SANG build their communication network. Next up, signs from the National Neighborhood Watch Institute.

Riley-Park-PlaygroundSANG is especially excited by the neighborhood Rochester STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) High School’s “Get Ready for Life, Building Rochester” project on Polaris Street. On land purchased by Unicom, a collection of trade unions, a team of eight junior and senior students and one supervising teacher, constructed a three-bedroom single family Colonial home in 2009. The neighborhood was elated when the home recently sold for $99,000.

Today, the Lyell Otis Avery neighborhood’s future looks even brighter. Unicom is considering two other lots nearby for future home construction projects. STEM program not only fills empty neighborhood lots but trains young men and women for jobs in electronics, carpentry and construction.