Despite an unprecedented surge of recent successes that have and will continue to have a profound impact on Joplin, there is something missing.

The past four years, much has been accomplished through the collaborative work of the city and our citizens, including the pending accreditation approval of our Police Department, the passage of the public-safety tax, the initiation of an ongoing downtown redevelopment, the near completion of the Joplin Sports Complex, a solution to the fire and police pension plan funding problems, the creation of Joplin’s Blueprint for the Future, annexations, recreational trails, airport redevelopment, the Sunshine Lamp Trolley, and the pursuit of Tree City USA designation.

This list exemplifies the commitment of the City Council, city staff, and citizens. But there is a missing link in the chain of redevelopment of Joplin that weakens all of these accomplishments. That link is the condition of some of our neighborhoods.

Several groups have identified this area of needed improvements and brought it to the attention of the city. The Community Appearance Task Force, created by the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, voiced their concerns during the envisioning process meeting last summer that included council members, community leaders, and activists and leaders and many of our citizens. As a result of their presentation, the improvement of our city’s appearance was duly noted as a top priority in the “Blueprint for the Future,” a list of recommendations to the City Council from a citizen-driven process. The council unanimously accepted the blueprint that gave direction to the city’s work through both short-term and long-term goals.

The city has developed a new plan to address the neighborhood improvement needs, encompassing collaboration with citizens and neighbors, referred to as the neighborhood improvement plan. A partnership in neighborhoods is needed. Connecting with their social infrastructure, their leaders and peers, to rehabilitate neighborhoods will strengthen the city’s work of neighborhood revitalization. As an active partner, the city can bring funding through newly acquired grants, trees, street lights and signage to the neighborhood and initiate a project that will not only improve that neighborhood, but also create a new spirit, a resurgence of pride within those citizens in the neighborhood. There are also other existing programs in the city provided by organizations that the city can team with to help these neighborhoods.

Obviously, the city cannot do this alone. We will need the community support that has been evident these past few years and create a synergy with the above accomplishments to propel Joplin to new heights. We aspire to reach the level in which all of us can stand outside of our home and the surrounding areas and take pride in the work and efforts that beautify Joplin.

Joplin will launch this effort on Wednesday, June 25 and work in a neighborhood that will gain strength and direction not only from the city’s efforts, but also from its citizens and their leaders in reclaiming their homes and streets as a place of beauty.

As the first neighborhood is completed, others will be identified as the residents step forward to provide leadership and commitment to the beautification of Joplin.

In my estimation, there is no more important effort that the city can focus on now and in the foreseeable future than getting into some of our neighborhoods and working with our neighbors to address some of the challenges and enhance the quality of life for our fellow citizens. Please join us by supporting our collaborative effort to complete our revitalization efforts in our initial target area and beyond.

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