Opa-locka is taking strides to clean up its community. A citywide beautification project to replace illegally dumped trash with plant life is now in the works.
The city launched the effort, led by City Commissioner Joseph Kelley and co-sponsored by Commissioner Terence Pinder, late last year after complaints about the problem surfaced during “Meet Me Mondays,” a monthly public discussion about community issues.
A pilot program targeted cleaning up two sites initially: Northwest 22nd Place and 23rd Court along the Burlington Street Canal. For a few hours on the first Saturday of last December, city staff cleaned up the waste-ridden area and filled it with new sod, two palm trees and a few small shrubs.
Although the cooler December weather led fewer residents to participate, Kelley said the pilot beautification project was a success.
“If you go by the sites now, the flowers are still there and there’s no dumping around. It’s worked out great,” Kelley said. The concept, he added, is to help homeowners get involved and take ownership of the issue.
The program roughly costs between $5,000 and $7,000. So far, the fees have been covered by internally generated revenue, said City Manager Kelvin Baker. Proceeds from the city’s sale of surplus decommissioned vehicles have also helped to purchase trees, sod and other materials.
The next phase of the project will begin on Feb. 17. The commissioners, public works employees and city interns will host a four-day clean sweep to hoist old mattresses, broken lawn chairs and used construction materials, among other items, out of 30 dumping sites around the city.
The clean-ups, which will be held from noon to 2 p.m. until Feb. 20, will focus on different problem areas within the community each day. The commissioners will meet at the intersection of Northwest 141st Street and 23rd Avenue on the first day. They will invite residents to join in. The following days they will tackle the areas around the Magnolia North apartment complex, the intersection of Northwest 133rd Street and 32nd Avenue and Historic City Hall.
“The concept here is to take these areas that look a bit blighted from illegal dumping and add beautification with hope that this unwanted activity will cease,” Baker said. “All cities have it and we have made it a priority to get on top of it.”
In the following months, Pinder said he’ll consider introducing legislation to maintain the beautification efforts. He hopes to bring a resolution to the commission by May.
“When you have a clean, beautiful city, it helps deter crime,” Pinder said.
Smaller initiatives under the beautification project have also taken effect. Residents can adopt their block to help improve curb appeal and report sights of illegal dumping to a citywide hotline, among other things.
“The city has done clean-ups periodically, but nothing like transforming the area that has been used for illegal dumping,” said Kelley. “This effort so far, I’m so thankful, it’s still there.”