Written by Kasia Redden, Administrative Assistant for the City of Woodway. Kasia took the lead in renewing Keep Woodway Beautiful’s partnership status with Keep Texas Beautiful. KWB had been on probation for the last couple of years, but this year they worked hard and achieved a Silver Star status with KTB. Kasia has the intention for KWB to achieve Gold Star by next year.
Keep Woodway Beautiful is run directly by the City of Woodway rather than as a separate entity. As a City-run affiliate, we do have the benefit of City staff and our volunteer commissions to carry out our plans and develop new ideas. The KWB budget is part of the City’s overall budget, so each project is simply funded by the budget of the department under which it falls, and we are able to submit new projects directly to the City Council each year. We do have a willing group of citizens who have always been generous with their time for past events. While we have not been able to hold in-person events during the pandemic, they have responded well to supply pick-ups, Hazardous Waste drop-offs, and the Community Litter Evaluation. Future plans and projects include, we hope, the ability to resume in-person events so that we can expand our trail cleanups and the youth education programs we were getting off the ground at the Arboretum just prior to the pandemic.
As a previous winner of the GCAA and a city that prides itself on being a clean and beautiful place to live, we hadn’t intended for our partnership status with KTB to slip. The requirements for Good Standing changed and when I discovered this late in 2020, I simply did not have the time available to accomplish the necessary steps prior to the release of the standings. Knowing what to expect in 2021 enabled me to reorganize and plan ahead so that I could take advantage of the educational opportunities offered by KTB, and to plan for events that would allow us to keep our status during the pandemic.
During the pandemic, our primary focus has been on the updating of all of our buildings and facilities, but one thing I would like to highlight is how the pandemic has forced us to expand upon the traditional events and ideas we had grown accustomed to. We have typically held specifically-targeted cleanup or collection programs once or twice a year, in addition to providing our residents with weekly pickups for trash, brush, and recycling. We had never done a Community Litter Evaluation or hosted a supply-pickup event that allowed residents an opportunity to use complimentary supplies to organize within their own groups or neighborhoods. In 2021, because we wanted to get back on track with KTB and with our cleanups in general, we were forced to think outside the KWB box and do things we had not done. The response we received was fantastic. Our Fall Sweep supplies disappeared within a couple of days, and people called, mailed, emailed, and dropped off their Community Litter Evaluations, allowing us to gain valuable insights into their concerns and start to plan going forward. We brought back our Yard of the Month program, once judged by a volunteer commission, and placed a selection of winners in the hands of our Code Enforcement Officer. Now, he can give awards instead of just tickets, and our citizens can be recognized by him and by our City Council for their hard work.
I am most excited about the freedom to explore new programs and expand on existing ideas going forward. Our City management is dedicated to continuous improvement, and with the success of the new and renewed programs this year they are more open than ever to new ideas. I am proud of the initiatives we have pursued this year such as the Community Litter Evaluation, but I plan to develop a master plan for our community as it relates to Keep Texas Beautiful that will incorporate monthly, quarterly, and yearly goals as well as event participation and organizational reports. These can then be submitted directly to City Council to show our successes, demonstrate needs, and inspire future projects.
Our commitment to beautification has never wavered. While new requirements for education or reporting may have caused a bump in our road with KTB, we have remained dedicated to our high standards regarding litter control, guided development, public involvement, and protecting the aesthetic quality that keeps our little City in high local demand. We are extremely proud of our Silver Star status, and it is in my personal master plan to achieve Gold Star status next year!