Sledding hill is a shining star on the block

Pam Santoso (top left) sleds with her kids Dewa (bottom)and Rirana at David Sterling’s sledding hill. Sterling’s hill he built on a mostly flat lot is just one of the assets he’s putting into the neighborhood. (photos by Patrick Larkin/Review)

David Sterling, 71, shovels snow to improve the sledding hill on the vacant lot next to his house in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood.

Neighbors sat around on David and MaryJo Sterling’s porch and drank hot cocoa on a cold, blustery day.

East Sider David Sterling, 71, may be an older gentleman, but he’s got plenty of energy to put into his neighborhood.

For five years running, he’s built a sledding hill alongside his house in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood for nearby kids to come to for some outdoor fun.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Sterling met with some neighbor kids to goof around in the snow and see the hill in action. Pam Santoso brought her two kids, Dewa and Rirana, to burn some energy.

If it weren’t for the Sterling family’s hill, the kids might not have left the house on the cold, blustery day, Santoso explained.

Santoso said she’s glad for the presence of neighbors like David and MaryJo Sterling - their sledding hill is a place young Dewa can simply walk to on his own for entertainment. “It’s safe and in the neighborhood,” she said.

Adding to the appeal of his block, David Sterling has also built a giant treehouse attached to a tree in the backyard of the couple’s East Side home. The towering structure hosts two rooms and even has an insulated room for colder weather days. There in the treehouse, the Sterlings said they try to instill good attitudes and values in the neighborhood kids. The treehouse is closed up for the winter, but should be bustling with activity come spring.

When the ground thaws, the couple is also looking to add a community garden to the spot where the sledding hill now sits -- there’s a vacant, bank-owned lot right next door to the Sterlings that would make a perfect, sunny spot for one.

—  Patrick Larkin


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