Keep Arlington Beautiful Takes Home Top Prize
By Office of Communication
Posted on July 12, 2012, July 12, 2012

A city-wide festival dedicated to recycling, a half-acre community garden and community clean-ups helped Arlington earn the state's top award for grassroots environmentalism.

The Governor's Community Achievement Award is awarded each year to Texas communities that effectively engage citizens, businesses, schools, government and youth to keep their city, county or region beautiful with environmental programs.

Keep Arlington Beautiful received the Gold Star designation among the largest Texas cities, based on categories including community leadership, education, public awareness, litter prevention and clean-up, beautification and solid waste management.

As part of the awards, Texas Department of Transportation handed out $2 million in awards for highway beautification projects. Arlington received $310,000, which it plans to use to build gateway signage along I-30.

"This award puts Arlington on the map as a leader among big cities," said Jennifer Chadwell, who serves as the city staff liaison to Keep Arlington Beautiful. "We are in the heart of the Metroplex, and we're working to spread the message of environmentalism and beautification across the region."

The Arlington community has made beautification a top priority in recent years, organizing clean-ups and festivals to spread awareness.

Recent projects include:

  • Ecofest, which taught community about recycling, waste reduction, litter prevention and beautification, drew 10,000 participants, gave away over 1,000 free native trees, taught 65 demonstration classes and offered free low flow shower head replacements.
  • Green at College Park, a partnership with Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the U.S. Botanic Garden, features 2.6 acres of native plants and innovative design to reduce storm water pollution.
  • the world's first Reimagine Beverage Container Recycling Center, which recycled more than 1.2 million bottles and cans in fewer than 10 months.
  • A half-acre community garden that hosts 78 plots. Two 1,500-gallon water cisterns collect rain for watering, and compost from University of Texas at Arlington provides the mulch. Half of the organic produce grown is donated to Mission Arlington charities.

Keep Arlington Beautiful recently launched a 35-member board of community members and local leaders, which is seeking non-profit status. The organization is also working to achieve designation from Keep America Beautiful.

Chadwell said the city has made major strides in beautification and awareness of those efforts.

"We need to get the word out to motivate and inspire," she said. "If people don't know the positive things going on in their community, they can't help spread them."

by Sarah Bahari

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