The sidewalks in the business core of Lake City are often disgusting. Newspapers and trash left by commuters blow around near bus stops, gum and other foul-looking things are ground into the concrete, car parts ejected from vehicles passing by on 522, and beer cans left by our neighborhoods’ chronic inebriates often litter the area.
The unsightly scene can leave a quick and lasting bad impression of the Lake City business core, an area supposedly looking for an identity.
Sidewalks guaranteed to always be unsightly include the stretch in front of Romios, the Lake City Hair Salon, and Dollar Plus. On the west side of the street, the area in front of Public Health’s Lake City Dental Clinic and near the Lake City Mini Park is often a mess. The litter problem around the bus stops, and in front of those businesses, has been discussed at many neighborhood meetings. Unfortunately, nothing seems to have changed.
But one group of people are working to change that —on orders from a judge.
The Seattle Municipal Community Court offenders program worked recently on the Lake City Way business core. They cleaned up trash and worked to beautify the neighborhood.
They picked up bottles, cans, trash and gathered a number of used hypodermic needles from flower pots in the business core on Lake City Way. Future plans call for adding bark to trees and gardens.
Led by service workers from Americorps, who supervise the offenders, and longtime Lake City resident Chuck Dickey, the crew heads out every two weeks. They have gathered large bags of garbage, trimmed overgrown vegetation on public rights of way, picked up the dangerous mess left by drug users, and worked to clean up after people that may have missed the lesson in kindergarten about not littering.
Dickey, a member of the Lake City Lions Club, said that the courts are sending fewer offenders to participate in the program, but that they can almost always be guaranteed to be working around Lake City on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month.
Judges can sentence the offenders to complete the program for minor offenses like stealing and drug possession. The program works to keep these low-level offenders out of jail and also helps beautify an area that often struggles with an apparently messy population and apparent lack of stewardship from some business owners and property managers.
Dickey admitted that sometimes Lake City can look run down and neglected. And an increase in empty storefronts increases the problem.
The offenders, staff and volunteers from Community Court have painted out graffiti and have also painted murals around the Lake City Community Center.