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The ‘Weekend’ that wasn’t

Demetrios Tsimis holds his 17-month-old daughter, Evangelina, at the Aug. 12 West Side Weekend event. The weekly community gatherings have been postponed until Tsimis can recruit more support, volunteers and interest.

Demetrios Tsimis holds his 17-month-old daughter, Evangelina, at the Aug. 12 West Side Weekend event. The weekly community gatherings have been postponed until Tsimis can recruit more support, volunteers and interest. Photo by Ami Olson.

— Demetrios Tsimis had a plan: turn a vacant lot on the Near West Side into a gathering place every Friday and Sunday, where neighborhood residents could find food, music and vendors, for free.

Tsimis, an entrepreneur, said he and his wife bought a house on Geddes Street when they moved to Syracuse about a year and a half ago, and he quickly joined the Near Westside Business Association to stay updated on what was going on in he community.

“The question at one of the [Near Westside Business Association] meetings was, ‘how do we attract people to strip between West and Fayette streets?’” Tsimis said. “The solution is commerce.”

But even with thousands of cars traveling through the corridor, people aren’t going to stop in the neighborhood to take advantage of the businesses there, until their perception of the overall neighborhood changes, he realized.

“My goal was to get people from within the community to come together,” Tsimis said. “Create an environment that promotes community engagement and positive exposure of the neighborhood for greater Syracuse. This will solve the problem and expedite the development of the West Side.”

He named the venture West Side Weekend and started recruiting interested vendors, musicians, artists — anyone who wanted to be a part of promoting the community. He secured a location, a vacant lot at the corner of Wyoming and Marcellus streets owned by the Near Westside Initiative, and spent the second week of August going door to door on the Near West Side, handing out 800 handbills and letting people know about the event, he said.

But two weeks of very low turnout left him and his volunteers confused. Where is everybody, and why aren’t they coming out?

“Me doing this was just trying to promote community engagement to make the West Side a safer, cleaner, more enjoyable place to live for people who live there,” Tsimis said. But it didn’t quite work out that way.

Ami Olson is the editor of The Eagle, reach her at editor@theeaglecny.com.

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