Initiative 6#: Community Beautification

These action steps are outlined in the Community and Economic Development strategy. Below are the action steps, but the full document includes the case studies, as well.

Objective

Enhance community attractiveness, pride, and image through purposeful investments, programs, and policies that support beautification and blight removal.


Action 6.1: Prepare public and private spaces for public art installations, and provide adequate incentives to encourage the spread of public art installations in the community.

As referenced in Initiative 2.6, one of the first actions that the community can take prior to the development and adoption of a new vision for the Cheyenne Greenway is the installation of public art along the Greenway. In addition to efforts concentrated along the Greenway, the community can support public art in the following ways:

  • Identify publicly-owned properties and sites within the community that could incorporate new murals

  • Identify publicly-owned properties and sites within the community that could house new sculptures

  • Issue a request for interest to private property owners within the community to identify additional sites

  • Designate funds and issue requests for proposals for artists to develop new murals and sculptures

  • Establish a corporate-sponsored public art program

  • Promote neighborhood, school, and community pride by giving students spaces to create public art

  • Incorporate public art projects into the curriculum for the Art program at LCCC

  • Support multidisciplinary public art projects at LCCC (i.e. engineering and art students working together)

  • Create one or more landmark pieces of public art at interstate interchanges or community gateways

  • Evaluate interest among property owners and stakeholders in establishing a Cultural District to, in part, concentrate public art investments


Action 6.2: Proactively mitigate blight and promote beautification in targeted neighborhoods through implementation of a new "SxS program" as a component of the City's "Fight the Blight" initiative.

The Mayor's "Fight the Blight" initiative - eligible for immense funding as part of the Bloomberg Mayor's Challenge - will, in part, support the establishment of a database of blighted, abandoned properties that should be targeted for demolition. The proactive removal of key eyesores throughout the community, and particularly at key gateways into the community, is important for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, abandoned properties pose health and environmental hazards to the community. But they also depress surrounding property values, discourage investment in adjacent properties, prevent neighborhoods from reaching the potential, and contribute to poor external- and self-image.

The "Flight the Blight" initiative can be supported by the implementation of a new "5x5 program" that provides concentrated, enhanced City services to a specific area for a limited period of time. The program takes its name from an effort in Macon, Georgia where City services were concentrated in a five block area for five weeks before moving on to another area of town. Such a program would involve staff from various city departments that would create a collaborative team to focus City services on the targeted area, and engage residents of the target area to become involved in the initiative. In addition to demolition of blighted structures, City services encompassed by the program could include but are not limited to pothole repair, street painting, curb repair, tree and flower planting, graffiti removal, litter removal, and any number of other needs and objectives identified by the City and neighborhood partners. The ideal program would include an element that engages neighborhood associations and property owners to participate in volunteer-led initiatives that complement City-led initiatives. A marketable . name for the program - potentially similar to Macon's "5x5 Program" - should be developed, or the program could simply become part of the "Flight the Blight" initiative.


Action 6.3: Launch a small, matching beautification grant program.

To help facilitate investments in community beautification projects, the community should consider establishing a small, matching grant program to support community beautification projects. Such grants could be used by neighborhood and homeowner associations, private property owners, and community institu􀀋ions that wish to invest in beautification projects that have clear public benefit. Grant monies in other communities are often used for landscaping and improvement of entrances to neighborhoods and developments through plantings, signage, and other investments. Recipients are often required to leverage their neighborhood as volunteers in the project, and demonstrate a plan for sustainability. This helps encourage resident engagement and support pride in the community aesthetic.

Projects eligible for matching grants could include landscape architecture; tree and flower plantings; community gardens; public art, or; benches or similar infrastructure in accordance with City and County plans. The program could grant matching funds at a 1 :1 ratio up to a specific level (for example, from $1,000 to $5,000).


Action 6.4: Proactively invest in corridor and gateway improvement to improve first impressions.

As suggested in Initiative 6.1, the community needs to improve its gateways to the community. Many highly­trafficked routes into town could be improved with greater investments in blight removal, public art, and overall community beautification. As the old adage goes, "you only have one chance to make a good first impression." To advance these objectives, a variety of actions are possible:

  • Consider amending sign ordinances and other ordinances to improve aesthetics

  • Create one or more landmark pieces of public art at interstate interchanges or community gateways

  • Invest in plantings and streetscaping to improve aesthetic

  • Invest in tasteful, aesthetically-pleasing branded elements (signage and wayfinding) that welcomes visitors to the community and its key amenities such as the Cheyenne Greenway


Action 6.5: Advocate for the enablement of new tools that can support blight removal and redevelopment.

The State of Wyoming and its communities are relatively restricted in terms of the types of tools that are enabled to support blight removal and redevelopment. Two key tools that are leveraged heavily in other states are Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and Land Bank Authorities. Business improvement districts (also known as community improvement districts and other names) are districts where property owners elect to tax themselves a set rate to support specific projects (beautification, public safety, etc.) that benefit property owners in the district. In this regard, BIDs are similar in principle to the enabled self-taxing powers provided to downtown development authorities in the state. Land banks exist across the country to acquire tax delinquent and abandoned properties, and either raze or revitalize these properties to support their resale and return them to revenue-generating uses. The enablement of such authorities in Wyoming could greatly assist the community's proactive efforts to mitigate blight and catalyze redevelopment in targeted areas. Collaborative advocacy efforts with other communities in the state that share similar objectives can support the enablement of these tools.

Rachel Girt