Arlington

Arlington leaders, volunteers teaming up to create safer, more beautiful neighborhoods

The Neighborhood Enhancement Program implemented by the City of Arlington is bringing residents and city leaders together as they work to improve certain neighborhoods and make the city safer.
The Neighborhood Enhancement Program implemented by the City of Arlington is bringing residents and city leaders together as they work to improve certain neighborhoods and make the city safer. Courtesy

Great neighborhoods are the results of great neighbors. Arlington residents and city workers are showing their pride as they partner together to improve their city.

In January, the Arlington City Council approved the creation of the Neighborhood Enhancement Team, part of the city’s Champion Great Neighborhoods initiative. Now, that team is joining forces with residents to add beauty and safety throughout the city.

The team includes city employees from code compliance, police, fire and library. They use data such as the volume of code compliance complaints and police calls for service to strategically select neighborhoods where additional city resources and assistance will be offered.

The team is partnering with residents to improve curb appeal, protect home values and build community pride in neighborhoods.

“The information helps us identify neighborhoods where this innovative collaboration is most likely to provide an immediate and lasting change for the better,” Mayor Jeff Williams said.

“By proactively engaging with our residents and providing these targeted city resources, we are continuing our efforts to keep Arlington beautiful and create safe, stable and attractive neighborhoods that our families are proud to make their home.”

For example, the team recently joined forces with property owners, volunteers from the Greater Community Missionary Baptist Church, the Heart of Arlington Neighborhood Association, and city employees to improve the appearance and quality of life in the Phillips Park neighborhood.

City officials said more than 11 tons of debris were cleaned up in the project.

“It was a great project. It helped to enhance participation neighbor-to-neighbor and street-to-street,” Greater Community Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Kennedy Jones said. “This gave folks a message that someone down at city hall was really listening.

“Our church has become a hub of activity in this Collins to Cooper Street corridor, and we got a lot of people turned out for this.”

A celebration party followed, complete with a lunch for those who helped, and bounce houses for the neighborhood children. Five locations were brought into compliance in the project, said Field Operations Manager Neal Lucas.

“This is a great way to connect with your neighbors while taking advantage of the resources provided by the city and community partners to clean up your property and neighborhood,” Lucas said. “The goal of the program is to bring this type of project all across the City of Arlington.”

Lucas also stressed this is a permanent program, with a goal of building partnerships and relationships, as well as connecting residents with city workers and services they can use on a regular basis.”

Jones said neighboring cities are also taking notice.

“I’ve talked with some folks in Fort Worth and Grand Prairie, and they’re paying attention,” he said. “It matters how your yard looks, and it carries over from street to street.”

The Neighborhood Enhancement Team, led by Senior Code Compliance Officers Curtis Jones and Sergio Erazo, will continue visiting Phillips Park property owners over the coming months. Planned outreach efforts include providing educational resources and materials, promptly addressing new code violations, and developing relationships with residents.

The collaboration is producing positive results. During the initial inspection in July, Code Compliance officers found that 158 of 264 properties (60 percent) in Phillips Park had code violations. After weeks communication and proactive outreach, Code Compliance officers found during a follow-up inspection at the end of August that the number of remaining code violations had been voluntarily reduced by the residents to only 28 percent.

“What we envision and plan on is a maintenance strategy,” Lucas said. “We plan on coming back to the neighborhood in about 12 months to reassess how it is doing and what the pulse is at that time.”

Lucas also said the team is in the process of choosing its next project.

To suggest a neighborhood to partner with the Neighborhood Enhancement Team, email Curtis.Jones@arlingtontx.gov or Sergio.Erazo@arlingtontx.gov. To learn more, visit http://arlingtonwebstore.com/NeighborhoodEnhancementTeamDonation.aspx.

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