Tag Archives: litter patrol

Community court offenders, volunteers work to clean up LCW

People sentenced by a judge to community service work to clean up Lake City's urban core.

People sentenced by a judge to community service work to clean up Lake City’s urban core.

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.

Tracy Lamont of Americorp, who helps supervise people sentenced to community service, and longtime Lake City resident Chuck Dickey clean up alongside community court offenders.

Tracy Lamont of Americorp, who helps supervise people sentenced to community service, and longtime Lake City resident Chuck Dickey clean up alongside community court offenders in front of the shuttered Rimrock on LCW.

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Cleanup Walks in Lake City

Bottles, cans, and a baggie collected on a leisurely walk.

Bottles, cans, and a baggie collected on a leisurely walk in Lisa’s neighborhood.

While networking with other Lake City residents recently, I’ve been hearing interest in neighborhood walks and cleanup. The majority of our harsh weather may be over, and that means more pedestrian activity!

Walks are surprisingly easy to start, and not a lot of work to maintain. Benefits include meeting your neighbors, discovering issues, getting to know the wildlife and seasonal changes, and safer walkways.

The Lake City Neighborhood Alliance has a page up detailing how to find or get one started in your area. At the moment, I believe more walks exist than are on the calendar and I’m hoping more will show up as interest grows. Supplies for protection and collection can be acquired from the Lake City Neighborhood Service Center.

I’ve been enjoying group and solo walks in my neighborhood since September of last year. In that time, I’ve rescued 3 loose dogs (and returned them), picked up countless needles out of grass areas where school buses drop off children, met quite a few of my neighbors, and gained a better understanding of vandalism and trash in our area. I’ve also occasionally joined Douglas Park Cooperative (DPC) on their walks and learned much about Lake City’s Hub Urban Village issues. Here’s a dated example of a DPC walk report. And here’s one of mine.

Interested in beautifying your little corner of Lake City? Don’t hesitate! I’m learning to love it and all the benefits (fitness, and a nicer environment overall). You don’t have to wait on neighborhood interest before starting. Bring a bag with you on your next walk and be open to conversation with curious neighbors. You may just discover a fitness buddy! I met my dog walking companions this way.