Blog post written by Nancy Bertholf, Affiliate Coordinator of Keep Chandler Beautiful.
Being a small town affiliate of KTB usually means your volunteer pool is small and funding sources are minimal. Chandler, a city of 3,400 today, has doubled its size in the past 25 years but has also doubled its determination to provide its residents with parks, recreation areas, cultural destinations, recycling access, and beautification projects that add to the quality of life despite the uphill battle for resources.
Keep Chandler Beautiful was established in 1997 by a group of mostly retired area residents who began beautification projects, created two parks, cleaned roadways, and started a manned recycling center. By 2012, membership had declined and it became more difficult to complete projects or maintain the recycling center. It looked like the affiliate might disappear. The city manager of Chandler realized the value of this organization and refused to let it disband. He enlisted council members, citizens, and city employees to become board members, rewrote the by-laws creating a closer working relationship between the city and KCB, and found funding through grants and the EDC.
By 2015, beautification projects and clean-ups began at River Park located on the Neches River. A low water native plant pocket park was created featuring directional signage for destinations. Gardens were created at McCain Park to complement the historical buildings that had been relocated to that site. Seasonal banners were ordered and hung on poles throughout the city.
Paying homage to Chandler’s railroad history, KCB created a pocket park for train watching near the downtown area. As many as twenty trains pass Whistle Stop Park daily. The low-maintenance park was located on a small tract of land that was the site of the original train depot. The depot was moved to McCain Park as part of the historical museum and renovated with the help of KCB volunteers.
Local churches, school groups, and scouting organizations are enlisted to help with city-wide clean-ups. An Adopt a Street/ Spot program encourages local residents to maintain streets and parks in neighborhoods. And, yes, 2020 was a difficult year but by utilizing outdoor spaces and Little Free Libraries, KCB was able to continue educational programs and participate in the Great American Cleanup, Waterway Cleanups and Fall Sweep. A grant was received to do a clean-up at an identified illegal dumping site within the city limits.
Each year has its obstacles but Keep Chandler Beautiful is determined to push forward….we can do it!
Learn more about Keep Chandler Beautiful here. And check out our past Affiliates of the Month at ktb.org/aom.