Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

May 13, 2013

Taking pride in Ashland

Repair Affair, downtown cleanup set for Saturday

Carrie Stambaugh
The Independent

ASHLAND — Two separate City of Ashland initiatives aimed at improving the city as a place to live and work will take place this weekend.

The 13th annual Repair Affair will be at 7:30 a.m. Saturday. Volunteers will gather in Central Park before dispersing throughout the city to work on selected residental projects.

Also on Saturday, the One Neighborhood at a Time cleanup and beautification event in the downtown central business district will  follow Mayor Chuck Charles’ morning Walk with the Mayor. The walk will begin at 8 a.m. in Central Park, touching the neighborhood from 12th Street to 29th Street between Greenup and Hilton avenues.

Officials say both initiatives help improve the look of the community while creating a sense of pride and ownership among its citizens.

“It’s a good way to get out and help your community, help your neighbor,” said Mike Miller, Ashland’s director of Planning and Community Development, who organizes the Repair Affair. Participants, he said, “are proud of their community and where they live, and this is one way they can give back.”

Charles said both events demonstrate the power of government and residents working side by side for the common good. Whether turning out to help their neighbors with Repair Affair or shining up their downtown businesses, both events show that “citizens are taking ownership in their community and we’re all getting together to make it work,” said Charles.

The Repair Affair will consist at least 30 projects throughout the city, which will be completed by more than 200 volunteers. There were 45 applications this year, according to Miller, who said additional projects could be completed if more volunteers turn out.

Volunteers will meet at the park at 7:30 a.m. then split up to work on separate projects. Many groups of volunteers already have chosen projects, but others haven’t, Miller said.

 Most projects will require a five- to six-hour day with work beginning shortly after 7:30 a.m. and finishing up in the early to mid-afternoon. This year, he said, two handicap ramps will be constructed while other projects range from lawn and yard repairs to painting and duct work, he said.

 Most of the materials needed for the projects has already been secured, but volunteers are still being sought, said Miller. Volunteers are welcome to “just show up” at Central Park’s old concession stand area on Saturday morning or can call ahead this week at (606) 327-2030.

The One Neighborhood at a Time downtown clean up will focus on sprucing up the downtown business district, said Charles. Business owners are encouraged to make improvements to their buildings, plant flowers or any other efforts that could help the downtown look better and “open to business.”

Next weekend there will be a Downtown Business Tour. It will give people the opportunity to tour the district, learn about its history and shop with special incentives.

Some cleanup work has already been completed downtown, including the removal of the old brick wall by the flag poles at Judd Plaza. Charles said he is hoping the local bricklayers union will help the city to replace it in the future.

On Saturday, additional volunteers will help pick up trash and clean the alleys, streets and some other city right-of-way areas from 13th to 19th streets between Greenup and Central avenues. Some repairs to the benches in front of the Highlands Museum and Discovery Center are planned along with “just some general sprucing up,” said Miller.

Flowers will be planted in some raised beds and former tree boxes along Winchester, he said. In addition, some of the city’s new hanging flower baskets are expected to be installed and planted that day too.

The planters, purchased through a grant from the Foundation for the Tri-State Community are being compared to those in Ironton. They will be installed on the utility poles downtown and will feature flowering plants.

“That is going to add a new aesthetic to our downtown, which I am really excited about,” said Ashland Main Street Director Danny Craig, who has been making the rounds through downtown

He said many downtown businesses have responded positively to the scheduled events and are already doing some work. “I think it’s a good initiative,” said Craig, noting he believes as businesses see others doing things, they too will get on board.

CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at (606) 326-2653 or by email cstambaugh@dailyindependent.com.