Aiken Wins Municipal Cup For Civic Innovation

The City of Aiken recently won the South Carolina Municipal Association Municipal Cup, for civic innovation. Aiken won the award for its restoration project in the Crosland Park neighborhood.

Other successful neighborhood projects encouraged the City to coordinate the efforts of other local groups that were working to improve Crosland Park, but were not coordinated. The City’s coordination must have been the missing link, because together, the local faith-based organizations, volunteer groups and the neighborhood association came up with a winning plan.

“Tremendous growth in Aiken had bypassed the city’s north side neighborhoods. One neighborhood in particular, Crosland Park, seemed to lack a social fabric. There were gangs, break-ins and speeding problems. Most of the houses in the neighborhood were rentals with a high turnover rate. Residents were restless and scared.

South Carolina Municipal Association

A task force made recommendations to achieve stability, after studying the neighborhood. The neighborhood association surveyed residents to discover how they wanted their neighborhood to change, noting violations, traffic concerns and dilapidated properties. Town hall meetings gathered input from residents.

Those recommendations were given to the City Council, who worked with several non-profits to raise the money to buy and renovate 150 homes. Grants and other funding came from a Community Development Block Grant, Palmetto Pride and Safe Routes to Schools. Unemployed workers did the physical labor, restoring houses and making properties energy efficient. New streetlights, sidewalks and a walking path to the nearby school were added.

The coalition started life skills classes, a youth leadership program, after school programs, a chess club, street parties, and other activities.

Congratulations to all involved.

See the story and video:

Public Service Award: City of Aiken