Let’s turn areas of blight into positive places of light

There is now a budding vineyard in the field across from the vacant lot where my cousin tripped and bloodied her leg on shards of broken glass.

The vineyard popped up in my old neighborhood last year, according to my mother. It replaces a pit of an apartment building that was left standing too long.

The bloody leg happened two ... OK, nearly three, decades ago.

My cousin was in the first grade or so. I was a few years older, and clearly recall the blood flowing from a cut made by broken pieces of a shattered beer bottle.

The pigtailed little girl took a tumble on our way home from school. We carried her home. The scars are still there on her leg.

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We weren’t supposed to walk through that now- clean lot.

We were definitely not supposed to go to the apartment building, which was shady and freaky. Winos drank wine in its parking lot.

Drug dealers made drug deals there.

A lot went on at that plot of land until the apartment building was torn down several years ago.

Now the property is Cleveland’s Vineyards of Chateau Hough.

Organizers of the Reimagining Cleveland Project hope to yield a usable crop of grapes from the site and two others by 2013.

It is one of several initiatives in Cuyahoga County and other parts of the state to do something — anything positive — about all of the vacant lots and boarded up, rundown or fire-damaged homes that leave once-vibrant neighborhoods looking like war zones.

There is plenty of that here.

All you have to do is drive around a little to see what I mean. I am not only talking about urban areas. As with anything, trouble has a way of creeping into the suburbs.

Montgomery County Commission recently approved the creation of the Montgomery County Land Reutilization Corporation, a nonprofit, public corporation that will acquire low-value properties from foreclosures, banks and private owners and sell them to redevelopers.

I say we could use a vineyard or two. Or eight.

How about some playgrounds? How about some community gardens? How about places where dogs can romp? How about a place where butterflies can land and dine on native flowers? How about some grass?

Cleaning this place up by removing the blight is in the cards.

If Cleveland can take a decrepit drug den and turn it into a vineyard, just imagine what can be done here.

What are your ideas to transform vacant lots into something useful?

Let us know.

Contact this columnist at arobinson@DaytonDaily News.com.

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