Mt. Pleasant NOW selects Nicholas Perry as new director

Agency looking to lead neighborhood’s renaissance

A once-idyllic mid-20th century neighborhood, today, Mt. Pleasant has fallen so far its name seems an oxymoron, a cruel joke for those residents without knowledge of the time when the area was solidly middle class.

New director takes helm, says re-boot already underway

Todd Michney’s wonderful book, Surrogate Suburbs: Black Upward Mobility and Neighborhood Change in Cleveland, 1900-1980[2017], describes a once-idyllic mid-20th century Mt. Pleasant neighborhood. Today, Mt. Pleasant has fallen so far its name seems an oxymoron, a cruel joke for those residents without knowledge of the time when the area was solidly middle class, its atmosphere so benevolent that white people were slower to flee than most of their cross town cousins.

Last night, the community’s eponymously named community development corporation [CDC], Mt. Pleasant NOW, held a reception to introduce its new executive director, Nicholas “Nick” Perry, and herald a sorely needed new day.

Perry, 46, stepped down as board president six weeks ago to become director. In one of his first acts, he said he has extended the hours of its community center, located at 13815 Kinsman near the once-vibrant Kinsman Ave-Union Rd-East 140 St. intersection. It now remains open weekday evenings for the use of community groups and others until 8:30 p.m.

Perry also said the agency has redefined its role as a brick-and-mortar CDC and plans to roll out an array of social services over the next 18 months. Citing what he said was his favorite Bible verse, Matthew 5:16, Perry concluded his brief remarks by saying “The Light is on in Mt. Pleasant.”

As part of the program, Mt. Pleasant NOW’s board presented several awards for achievement. Its Humanitarian Award went to Ella Thomas, executive director of Thea Bowman Center, one of the community’s nonprofit anchors.

The business-oriented award went to Akin Affrica, who is putting finishing touches on a new business, the Mt. Pleasant Café that is scheduled to open shortly. Affrica owns several other eateries, including Zanzibar on Shaker Square.

The Community Involvement Award went to M. Anita Gardner, a housing advocate and executive director of the Concerned Citizens Community Council.

The final award, for public service, went to Ward 4 city councilman, Ken Johnson. In rambling and somewhat unctuous remarks, Johnson, 71, noted that he had been born nearby at the corner East 144 St. and Glendale Ave. He has been on council since 1980 and was re-elected last week.

One interesting tidbit to emerge from the event was how the Mt. Pleasant community has been parceled out among four wards — 1, 2, 4 and 6 — and is served by three CDCs. Three of the council seats have turned over in the past several months, Wards 1 and 2 by election and Ward 6 by appointment. It seems apparent that collaboration and communication if not consolidation will be important if restorative efforts are to have any lasting effect.

  

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