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Thursday, April 12, 2007 07:44 pm

Baby steps

East-side cleanup effort to take place next week

Untitled Document Measured by the number of agencies involved, the effort scheduled for Saturday, April 21, to beautify one neighborhood on Springfield’s east side is massive.
The cleanup, involving an area bounded by South Grand, South Pope, and McCreery avenues and East Laurel Street, is a collaborative effort by several city agencies and local organizations, including the C. Lee Carey Neighborhood Association, Habitat for Humanity, Springfield Green, The Springfield Project, TSP-HOPE, and the Springfield Chamber of Commerce. Ward 2 Ald. Frank McNeil says that he and city planner Paul O’Shea have been discussing improvements that could be made in the wake of last March’s tornado, which ravaged the community. “It’s been a long time coming, and I’ve been saying for years, South Grand is a corridor into the city, and thankfully it’s beginning to be addressed,” McNeil says. O’Shea says that the city’s departments of Public Works and Planning and Economic Development, along with the Springfield Housing Authority and the Urban League, served as “primary movers” on the endeavor. A flier distributed to residents and property owners asks whether people need flowers planted, yards raked, debris hauled, or trees cut down, trimmed, or planted. Arrangements will also be made to have hazardous household chemicals and bulky items taken to the Illinois State Fairgrounds for disposal. “I can’t imagine why it takes a consortium like that for a little-bitty neighborhood cleanup,” says local resident Cathy McKamey, who questions the timing of the cleanup, which happens to coincide with Springfield’s municipal elections. McNeil says that although he’s working on a comprehensive long-range plan to revitalize his neighborhood, basic cleanup is needed before anything else can happen. O’Shea says that this is the first phase of the effort, with an eventual tie-in to a broader neighborhood-revitalization plan. That kind of talk makes McKamey nervous. She and her husband, Al, were vocal opponents of another redevelopment plan, Raising South Grand, proposed last summer by developer Mike Suhadolnik. McNeil assures residents that the plan he has in mind does not include razing people’s homes. And O’Shea dismisses the notion that the timing of the cleanup has anything to with next week’s election, adding that the city makes public-works crews available for such events whenever neighborhood groups pull together and request the services.
Contact R.L. Nave at rnave@illinoistimes.com.
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