Wednesday, July 18 , 2018, 1:57 am | Fair 64º

 
 
 
 

Ron Fink: Beautifying Lompoc Is a Community Effort

I had an opportunity to witness one of the best things about living in Lompoc this past Saturday.

The planters in the median strip along North D Street had long been neglected. First planted as part of a housing development in the early 1980s, they had simply worn out through neglect.

Although the city had come along each year and used weed whackers as their landscaping tool of choice, it was clear that something drastic needed to happen.

Enter Codie Blea, the city’s urban forestry supervisor and staff representative to the Lompoc Beautification and Appearance Commission.

He implemented a vision for this 265-foot-long and 6-foot-wide median strip that would take nearly two years to bring to fruition. That’s a big patch of ground to overhaul.

Each year the city has a “cleanup day” and many citizens set out in organized teams to attack trash-, junk- and weed-infested lots all over town. Aug. 27 was one of those days.

The reason citizens have to do this is because many people feel that their car window is a trash can and let fly with all sorts of wrappers as they zip down the street. I guess they don’t want to trash their cars but think littering the streets is OK.

Some neighborhoods try and keep up with all this mess and this area of D Street is a good example. A lot of people pass by this area every day, and I have seen trash accumulate as each day passes.

I also notice that some anonymous good Samaritan from the neighborhood seems to make all that trash disappear on a regular basis. This is what I call community spirit.

But back to the median strip. Blea and two of his crew showed up on a Monday morning and began the task of preparing the area for a new look.

This wasn’t an easy task. They needed tractors, a stump grinder, dump truck and hand tools to grub out about a foot-deep planting bed in the 1,600 square feet of old landscaping to get ready of the big event on Saturday.

These guys didn’t stop to chit chat — they were intent on the task, and after five full days of hard work they had removed the old material, leveled the area, reactivated the water meter, placed gopher wire to prevent future damage by the varmints and began planting trees and shrubs.

Still, a lot of work remained, and this is where many members of the community pitched in.

Saturday morning was a cool grey start for what would turn out to be a beautiful day. A large contingent of community volunteers assembled at a nearby church parking lot so that Blea could explain the task. Sometimes volunteers can be hard to manage, but he had a plan.

When the 30 plus men, women and young adults arrived at the project site he divided them up into teams and assigned each team to a section of the median. 

So, what did they do? Well part of the landscaping plan was to use various sizes of river rock, mulch and new healthy plants to finish off the job.

The volunteers planted small drought tolerant plants and distributed several thousand pounds of rock with wheel barrows and people power along the length of the median. This was no hap-hazard dumping; a mosaic was created that would please most landscapers.

They finished their task in just over three hours. Then the city crew collected all of the tools and ferried the several trucks used in the operation back to the city yard.

Overall this was a well-coordinated effort by the city. The team of volunteers retreated to the church parking lot for a well-earned barbecued lunch and then proudly admired their work, went home and collapsed on the couch nursing some sore muscles.

Meanwhile other groups were rehabilitating other areas around town. I am positive that each team put just as much effort into their task as the crew on North D Street did.

Thanks to the good people of Lompoc, our city looks a lot better because of the combined effort of city employees and all those volunteers that gave up their Saturday morning to beautify parts of Lompoc.

— Ron Fink, a Lompoc resident since 1975, is retired from the aerospace industry and has been active with Lompoc municipal government commissions and committee since 1992, including 12 years on the Lompoc Planning Commission. He is also a voting member of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association. Contact him at [email protected]. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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