July 27, 2021
A New View on Litter and Beautification
DEFINITION: The way that someone or something looks.
The view from the top of St. Joseph is quite lovely.
With places like King Hill or Wyeth Hill as a vantage point, the landscape is dotted with historic steeples, impressive mansion-top craftsmanship and warehouse or civic buildings where the builders spared no expense or material. These buildings were created to fulfill their purpose, and that purpose included inspiring residents to think big and share in community pride.
Today, that same sense of creativity and city pride is seeing a resurgence. Local organizations are passionate about coming in at the ground level toward helping residents with the clean-up efforts that go along with living in a historic river town. It’s not unusual for a town with such an interesting past to face litter and waste issues as infrastructures get older and property trends change – but there are certainly some dots to connect.
Built to flourish along Westward expansion river traffic, St. Joseph quickly became a rising star among wealthy entrepreneurs in the mid to late 1800s. Today, these blocks still offer amazing character, but are faced with the challenges that come with age and evolving needs. Even the more modern areas and business parks have their opportunities for showing off their charm, alongside their own needs for efficiently managing litter.
All corners of St. Joseph share in the Imagine 2040 plan goal of continuing to enhance city appearance, including litter and trash, as part of an overall multi-level improvement plan. Survey data collected during the initial phases of the Imagine 2040 plan said physical appearance is a high priority for community perception.
Neighborhood associations and business groups have been active for years in this vision, but local students are also involved in this priority. Many from the St. Joseph School District attend the leadership and community development sessions at emPowerU, a youth initiative of the Mosaic Life Care Foundation. Together the students can brainstorm solutions and concepts for challenges like beautification and encourage each other to get involved right where they are, as part of building up future civic leaders. Across designated circuits, the student-led curriculum allows participants to choose their own local issue or priority and take action toward it.
Recent St. Joseph city ordinances are complimenting these efforts. Beginning in August 2021, a St. Joseph City Council bill will require residents to put trash in a garbage bin rather than laid out curbside. Groups like the local Litter Initiative Committee stand behind the bill and have been sharing ideas for how residents can acquire effective types of bins.
Brian Myers, City Council Member, entrepreneur and native of the area, agrees that living in a city incorporated in 1851 can mean some deferred maintenance and unused property. “Fortunately, Saint Joseph has developed an enthusiastic following of citizens that are helping to make our community look better and do better in these areas,” says Myers. “Our local ‘Friends of Krug Park’ group has organized and performed numerous group cleanups, as well as tackling some maintenance issues at our most historic park. In another example, local business owner Nancy Kelly motivated her family to clean and repair many issues that were persisting at our popular King Hill lookout point on our city’s Southside. Local citizen James Kindred has organized several litter cleanup operations in our city’s midtown.
“Individually, these might all seem small. But together, it shows that there are scores of St. Joseph citizens that care about our city and will stop at nothing to take ownership of it,” says Myers.
It’s all part of a larger focus on highlighting what is truly unique about St. Joseph, pointing to a bigger initiative of beautification that includes maintenance of underutilized properties and abandoned properties. The goal is to help property owners address issues within city compliance regulations and work together for a common outcome. As the work continues, more properties could be revitalized or repurposed rather than reaching a point of needing demolition.
And that, no doubt, creates an even more “uncommon” amount of character for an already beautiful city – from any view you choose.
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