On June 17, about 150 volunteers and 15 local organizations will band together to help improve the Middlebury/University Park neighborhood behind Dave’s Supermarket (Excelsior and Roselawn avenues). The work performed during this all-day event will include home repairs, landscaping work, reclaiming lots from newly demolished homes, new trees and an “artistic board-up” of abandoned homes, among other improvements. Because there are so many stakeholders, we will feature them individually over the next couple of weeks. Here is a look at Keep Akron Beautiful’s role in this expansive project.
Who is participating?
Jacqui Ricchiuti- CEO;
Helen Dauka- Communications & Volunteer Project Manager;
Tim Reid- Litter Collection & Graffiti Coordinator;
William Ford- Litter Collection Supervisor; and
Leah Heiser- Flowerscape Director
How are you involved?
Keep Akron Beautiful is involved in the Neighborhood Reborn project in a variety of ways, as it is KAB’s mission to “Improve the quality of life through beautification and responsible environmental management,” in the City of Akron.
Why did you get involved with this project?
Keep Akron Beautiful wants to help keep Akron clean and beautiful. We are offering assistance with the litter and illegal dumping in the Roselawn/Excelsior neighborhood, prior to the event on June 17. We will also be on-hand all day on June 17 with our trained staff to help volunteers clear debris and materials, as well as dispose of the materials that day. In addition to this, Keep Akron Beautiful has helped facilitate the planting of more than 60 trees with the City of Akron Arborists. We also are working to do a few small beautification projects with the residents in recycled containers, such as recycled tires that will come from some of the lots. Our Flowerscape Director will help teach everyone about the best way to do these plantings!
Keep Akron Beautiful is committed to working with other community partners to make Akron a more beautiful place to live. We wanted to be involved in this project because when lots are empty and overgrown and illegally dumped on, it perpetuates a low morale within the community. We want to help strengthen the community’s sense of safety and pride by stabilizing and improving these lots (with the help of NNUP and so many other community partners) through this program. Keep America Beautiful (our national organization) in partnership with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has done a large amount of research about cleaning and greening of vacant lots. The research proves that cleaning and greening these lots can increase surrounding property values and improve everyday life by reducing vandalism, encouraging more exercise and reducing crime! We are happy to help make this University Park neighborhood a better place to live, work and play!
What outcomes have you seen since your organization’s involvement?
We have seen trees planted (60 trees) since our involvement, and some of the illegal dump sites have been cleaned up. In the next few weeks, we plan on removing the rest of the illegal dumping on Roselawn and Excelsior.
What will your organization be doing during the June 17 event? Is your organization doing any work leading up to the event?
On June 17 we will be assisting and training the volunteers on the best way to clean up litter and illegal dumping. Then, we will be working with the Keep Akron Beautiful crews and dump trucks to remove all of the trash onsite that day.
We have organized so that the city of Akron will have a packer truck available to us, that day, as well. In addition to the trash removal, KAB will provide our Community Pride Trailer, stocked full of landscape supplies so that many of the projects can be completed, on site. We will provide five KAB full-time staff members to assist with the project. We are also going to do a small beautification piece with the residents, with the help of our Flowerscape Director, in order to add some color to their yards! Before the project, we will work to get all of the illegally dumped furniture out of the neighborhood and take care of removing all of the items that volunteers should not touch.
What happens next? What does the future of the Roselawn/Excelsior neighborhood, the project and the community collaborations look like?
We hope that in the future, we will be able to rally the Roselawn/Excelsior neighbors to participate in our Adopt A Site Program and that the neighborhood will be a cleaner, greener place to live! We also plan on posting Keep Akron Beautiful “You litter, we fine” signs – so that we can try to combat the illegal dumping in the neighborhood in the future. Keep Akron Beautiful is happy to participate in projects like this and we are excited and energized to help with future community collaborations, so we can all do our part to keep Akron beautiful!