Little Rock wins Arkansas Shine Award
The City of Little Rock has won its first Arkansas Shine Award from the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission (KAB) for outstanding environmental and community improvement efforts. KAB representatives presented the award to city officials today at a reception at the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The Arkansas Shine Awards program recognizes communities that are making significant strides in providing programs and instituting policies to create sustainable communities. Little Rock is one of six statewide recipients of the fourth annual Arkansas Shine Awards.
“As the Capital City, in many instances, Little Rock serves as the face of Arkansas for our visitors,” wrote Mayor Mark Stodola in Little Rock’s Arkansas Shine Awards entry. “This year, we’re proud to have represented our state well, with recognition as one of Forbes’ ‘America’s Cleanest Cities,’ and one of Kiplinger’s Magazine’s ‘Top 10 Best Value Cities.’ We plan to continue taking steps to engage our community so that we can move forward with programs that will further improve quality of life for all of our residents.”
Little Rock’s award entry highlighted the city’s recent efforts to implement and promote sustainability measures that encourage community members to become more environmentally conscious. By involving a broad range of community partners, the city was able to create and coordinate a variety of community events – including Little Rock Bike-to-Work Day, the Little Rock School District (LRSD) “i Matter March,” the LRSD Paper Recycling Program and the Great American Cleanup in Little Rock.
“The City of Little Rock is taking aggressive steps to encourage our residents to become more environmentally aware,” Stodola stated. “We realize, however, that we cannot do this alone. By forging partnerships with the business community, nonprofit organizations, neighborhood associations and others, we’re increasing our impact and reaching new areas of our city.”
Another community improvement initiative featured in Little Rock’s Shine Award entry is the city’s neighborhood rehabilitation effort. Conducted in partnership with Better Community Developers, Little Rock Housing Authority, Habitat for Humanity and various neighborhood associations, this program takes dilapidated properties and works to renovate the structures instead of tearing them down. Renovated spaces are encouraged to use energy-efficient construction and appliances, and the city has noted fewer weed lot issues since the program’s introduction. To date, the City of Little Rock and its partners have acquired 37 properties through the innovative Land Bank Program.
“In spite of limited resources, this program has been successful because of the community’s support for these rehabilitation projects” Stodola noted. “Neighborhood associations and community service workers have played an important role in improving and maintaining these properties. In just 12 months, their partnership has helped the City of Little Rock maintain more than 3,000 lots.”
“KAB is eager to recognize the well-rounded efforts by communities all across the state and their commitment to civic improvement,” said Robert Phelps, director of KAB. “It takes dedicated leaders and volunteers in many organizations to keep towns clean and green, from litter prevention to recycling programs to beautification and community development.”
Arkansas Shine Awards entrants were evaluated and ranked using performance standards for 1) creating environmental initiatives to reduce litter, encourage recycling and enhance natural beauty; 2) positively impacting economic development; 3) developing public-private partnerships to accomplish goals; 4) securing project funding; and 5) enforcing litter laws and city ordinances for property upkeep. One Arkansas Shine Award winner was named in each of several population categories, and a statewide Superstar Award was presented to one community that had won multiple Shine Awards in previous years.
Other 2011 Arkansas Shine Award recipients are Bentonville (Benton County), Brookland (Craighead County), Harrison (Boone County), Nashville (Howard County) and Arkansas Shine Superstar Award winner Fayetteville (Washington County).