By Frank Lewis
Here is the fact - the city of Portsmouth is in financial straits no matter how you look at it. While City Manager Derek Allen tries to pull financial solutions out of a hat somewhere, some things are evident to people who visit places such as city parks or walk down Chillicothe Street. The city does not have the manpower to keep all of its property well groomed and pristine.
Second Ward City Councilman Rich Saddler has taken it on the shoulders of his Parks and Recreation Committee to attempt to get help from the public by having organizations or individuals adopt a park. Some are already adopted, and he himself has adopted Buckeye Park. But there is much work to be done and no matter how much you would like to see the grass cut perfectly on city-owned property, it is at best a shot-in-the-dark.
Derek Allen said sometimes when a special event is going on some place like Mound Park or Tracy Park or some other city-owned property, he can take someone of the city’s street crew and send them to cut the grass for that event. However, the city does not have the personnel to get that done on a regular basis.
Saddler has adopted his version of a classic John F. Kennedy phrase - “Ask not what your city can do for you. Ask what you can do for your city.” He said people are needed to cut grass, trim weeds and pick up trash. He said he covered several blocks the other day picking up trash and did it in about 45 minutes.
I would like to see just what kind of reaction we can get from our citizens locally. I would like to see individuals and groups go to Rich and volunteer to adopt a park, or cut the weeds on Chillicothe Street, or even just do a little sprucing up around the downtown area.
When the ice storm of 2003 struck the area neighbors on my road worked for 24 straight hours cutting up trees and pulling them off the road so that we could clear it to drive on it. It actually took two or three days to get it clear enough to drive on. There were people who couldn’t understand why we were doing it, saying - “that’s the county’s job.” But the county and some companies they had contracted with, had their hands full. It was a monumental task. We decided we would help by doing that work. The county was appreciative and eventually picked up the trees that were cut.
Sometimes we just need to be responsible for our world. Sometimes we need to look in the mirror when we want something done. That is why I would love to see an outpouring from the community in response to Rich Saddler’s request. I would like for people to look him up and volunteer to cut some grass, cut some weeds and pick up some trash.
The community is not some physical space you live in - you are the community. If you want to see beautiful parks and green spaces, maybe you could chip in and help bring that to reality. Taking pride by stepping up and getting involved is what separates a city from a neighborhood.
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, Ext. 1928, or on Twitter @FrankLewispdt.