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Neighborhood to get facelift with RENEW! cleanup project

By Richard Yeakley
Sept. 24, 2013 at 1:23 a.m.

A northwest Longview neighborhood will be swarming with city crews and volunteers next month as part of an effort to improve quality of life for hundreds of residents.

Called RENEW! Longview, the project is a partnership of the city of Longview, Spring Hill ISD, nonprofit organizations, residents and volunteers, and will attack issues from drainage and overgrown vegetation to crime prevention.

"We try to look at an area that has kind of got several issues going on," said Chris Clayton, the Longview Police Area Representative for the area. "We initially focused on a more centralized area, but we decided to expand it to take in a larger area, to just make the outreach a little bit further."

The project area, which he said includes about 800 homes, is west of Gilmer Road, north of Blake Drive, east of Teri Lynn Drive, and south of Alta Drive.

It is the third project for RENEW!, or Resources Enriching Neighborhoods through Empowerment Works. Last year, volunteers from Pine Tree ISD, Go West Longview and area churches turned their attention to the neighborhoods surrounding Birdie Park. The first RENEW! effort focused on the neighborhood near Stamper Park.

While much of the work will be done each Saturday morning in October by volunteers, city crews have already turned their attention to the neighborhood. Workers are cleaning streets and drainage ways, picking up heavy limbs and bulky trash, and environmental health officials are working with residents to address junk vehicles, stray animals, and other health concerns.

Low-cost rabies vaccinations will be offered on the final weekend of October. Longview police will bring in officers on foot and bicycle patrol. And the Longview Fire Department will offer home safety inspections to help identify dangers and prevent damage.

City crews, including Senior Code Compliance Inspector Eddie Pickard, spent Monday morning placing informational packets on doors in the neighborhood explaining how to reach Clayton, how the crime watch program works, and including a flyer about RENEW! Longview.

Denny Lind, principal of Spring Hill High School, said many of his students would be involved in the project clearing and painting fire hydrants in the neighborhood.

"Oh, it is all about servanthood. If we can serve others, that is our main purpose obviously in life," Lind said. "We want to spread that message that we are here to help anyway we can, to be proud of our school and outreach to the community."

Community Relations Coordinator Mary Jane Burnett said a variety of organizations have signed up to help with the project.

"I think it is important because it builds a sense of community," Burnett said.

While most work will focus on public property, the goal is to promote personal responsibility for private lands, said Laura Hill, director of community services.

"The thought is to kind of blitz an area, go in and focus all of the available city resources ... to make an immediate impact, an immediate noticeable difference," Hill said. "And at the same time try to encourage the residents of that area to also do the same thing on private property."

While the neighborhood near Stamper Park, the site of the first RENEW! Longview, has not remained as clean as it was after the project, it is noticeably better than before the project.



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