Syracuse’s Near Westside neighborhood has seen many positive improvements in recent years. A resurgence of neighborhood pride inspired the Westside Residents Coalition (WRC) to launch Adopt-A-Trashcan. This unique program places public trash receptacles throughout the neighborhood to reduce the amount of litter on public streets, sidewalks and green spaces.
WRC purchased and stencil-painted trash cans with identifying marks, fitted them with ballasts to prevent movement from wind and weather, and installed them on the properties of community members who agreed to maintain them. In return, the owners agreed to set them out on weekly trash pick-up days. Ultimately, WRC hopes that participation in this program will inspire resident volunteers to be more engaged in the care of their Near Westside community.
Adopt-A-Trashcan is one of the neighborhood enhancement projects recently funded by the Syracuse Parks Conservancy’s new Neighborhood Greening Grants program. These mini-grants, awarded in amounts of up to $750, help fund the costs of volunteer-driven, environmental improvement projects conducted by neighborhood associations, schools and community groups.
Karaline Rothwell, WRC Co-Chair, says that without the grant, the Adopt-a-Trashcan program would not have been possible.
“The Neighborhood Greening Grant was absolutely instrumental in making this project happen,” she said. “It created the funds necessary to purchase the garbage cans and installation supplies. Once placed throughout the neighborhood, we expect them to curb littering while enhancing our sense of community.”
The Syracuse Parks Conservancy, which works to ensure all Syracuse parks and public land are protected and enhanced for educational, recreational and wellness uses, received a Community Foundation grant to provide a pool of dollars from which Neighborhood Greening Grants are awarded.
“The funding we received from the Community Foundation was essential to provide the means for us to undertake these Neighborhood Greening Grants,” said George Matthews, vice president at the Conservancy. “It’s an idea we have wanted to implement for a while, but without funding could not bring to fruition.”
The Conservancy plans to award Neighborhood Greening Grants for a variety of improvement projects. Potential Projects include replacing lost urban trees and plants, providing safe outdoor recreation opportunities and creating interpretive gardens to foster an interest in nature. So far, in addition to Adopt-a-Trashcan program, completed projects include greenscaping at Comfort Tyler Park and the installation of bike racks at Onondaga Park.
The Conservancy is excited to see these grants being utilized to improve the city’s neighborhoods and public spaces. It sees this program as an opportunity to not only improve and beautify neighborhoods and parks but also to build interest and volunteerism for environmental projects in the community.
“Beautification projects are evidence that an area is cared for and valued by its residents,” said Matthews. “Taking part in the projects, and utilizing the spaces when the work is complete, brings a sense of contentment that adds to our quality of life and pride for the place we call home.”