By Bob Jackson
For Peggy Bosela, it started out simply enough — just hanging holiday ribbons on trees in an abandoned, neglected patch of land on the city’s East Side.
“People went crazy,” she said.
So, she decided to keep it up, and kept working at the triangular patch of land at the corner of Hubbard Road and Albert Street, about four blocks from her home.
When Easter rolled around, she decorated accordingly.
Again, people loved it.
“They’d drive past honking their horns and saying how much they appreciated what I was doing,” the 50-year-old East Sider said. “And I just fell in love with [the property]. It stole my heart.”
Now, she’s recognized in stores as “The Lot Lady,” and her hard work for taking care of the piece of land was recognized this week by Youngstown CityScape during its seventh annual Beautification Watch Awards Reception at the D.D. Davis Center of Fellows Riverside Gardens.
“The energy that you’ll feel in this room tonight from all the different projects is just fantastic,” said Sharon Letson, executive director of Youngstown CityScape. “It’s a sense of pride in the city.”
Awards were presented in these categories: Corporate/Business, Institution, Individual, Neighborhood Group, and Youth.
They were presented to those who have made and investment in preservation or beautification of property, and continue to raise the standards throughout the city, Letson said.
She added properties could be nominated by past award winners, city council members, the public, or city police officers who notice properties while on patrol.
“The mission of beautification, preservation and education is a tall one that depends on the efforts of many others throughout the city for the full impact,” Letson said. “When you step back and look at what’s happening in our city, it’s exciting.”
Bosela said her efforts have attracted the positive attention of neighbors enough that some of them donate jugs of water for her to water plants and flowers because there is no water available in the area. She also has had no issues with vandalism.
She works full-time during the day for Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield, but said it’s not uncommon for her to spend some four hours a night tending to the area that was described by her nominee as an “oasis.”
She said the property is in an area often traveled by people driving back and forth from the Ohio State Penitentiary on the city’s East Side, which generates tons of attention.
“The traffic is unbelievable. People drive by and see me working and they’ll yell out, ‘Hey, there’s the Lot Lady!’” Bosela said.
“People have even recognized me in stores and called me that, and that’s fine by me. I’ll keep doing this as long as I can walk.”
Also among the Individual award winners were Lillian and Eliezer Rivera of East Delason Avenue, who don’t even own their property.
“We rent a two-story brick home,” said Lillian, 45. “But we want to take care of what we have and make it look as good as we can.”
The couple moved here from Puerto Rico some six years ago.
In Puerto Rico, they lived in a primarily urban setting where they were surrounded by concrete, with very little tillable soil around them.
Coming to Youngstown gave them a chance to take care of their own land, even though they don’t own it, she said.
“He just likes to be outside, always working,” Lillian said of her 60-year-old husband, who doesn’t speak English.
“He does the grass, and I do the flowers.”
Lillian said she and her husband were nominated for the award by a policeman who regularly patrols their neighborhood.
“Some people complain about the police watching them,” Lillian said. “I’m glad I have the police and my neighbors watching over me.”