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Posted on: December 15, 2020

City Corner Column: Cleanups support broader community improvement

Portrait of Environmental Services Director Darryl Lesak

If a developer taking a first drive through Victoria sees litter along the highways, convincing that person to invest in our community will be an uphill battle. However, if they see clean and well-maintained public areas dotted with colorful flowerbeds, they will know Victoria is an ideal place to put down roots: an attractive community filled with people who take pride in the place they call home.

Attracting businesses is just one of the motivating factors behind the City’s recent beautification efforts. The City’s 2035 Comprehensive Plan identifies beautification, especially along high-traffic corridors, as an important part of “quality development”: that is, creating an environment that appeals to the people who live here and to outsiders who might like to live, visit or do business here.

My department’s role in quality development was heightened more than a year ago after discussions with the City Manager’s Office about what the City could do to improve its image. The initiative was a natural fit for my department: Environmental Services already handles trash and brush pickup for residents, so we’re equipped to haul away trash after cleanups.

These discussions led to the creation of the Community Appearance Division, a division of Environmental Services focused on cleaning and maintaining City-owned spaces. Since its inception, the Community Appearance Division has participated in beautification projects in such highly visible areas as the City’s “Welcome to Victoria” signs; Water Pumping Plant No. 3; DeLeon Plaza, with its new hanging flower baskets; and, most recently, the renovated Street of Ten Friends sign at North and Main streets.

Apart from the City’s internal effort, another important step has been the revival of Keep Victoria Beautiful, a volunteer organization that operates with some oversight from Environmental Services. After working earlier this year to assemble a board and draft bylaws, KVB was impeded by the pandemic from hosting community cleanups; however, we’re glad to report that a team of masked volunteers came together Dec. 5 to pick up trash and plant flowers in the area of Loop 463 between Navarro and Main streets.

We want the community to take ownership of the cleanup effort, which is why we were happy to partner with the Southside Community Coalition to host a cleanup that brought together volunteers from the south side, the City and the wider community. We’d like to continue hosting these types of localized cleanups as residents reach out to us and as we identify areas of need, whether those are neighborhoods, retail areas or thoroughfares. 

We’ve gotten positive feedback on the projects that have been completed so far, and we want to continue this effort with your help and support. If you’d like to take part in a KVB cleanup, go to www.victoriatx.gov/kvb. To report a problem area to the Community Appearance Division or get information on partnering with the City on a cleanup project, call 361-485-3230 or fill out the form at www.victoriatx.gov/beautification.

Darryl Lesak is the director of the City of Victoria Environmental Services.


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