If you’ve paid any attention to what people are talking about this summer, especially through social media, you have seen a trend with multiple posts on Facebook on the Nevada, Iowa Experiences - Good & Bad Page.
While they all may be about different things or a little different in the way they are presented, people in Nevada are taking a hard look at the appearance of our community, and to me, all of this discussion comes down to two words: respect and pride.
On July 11, Robert Kruse posted about rundown residential properties in Nevada, asking why we can’t get some of them fixed up or torn down. This led to a major amount of discussion, some not happy with Robert, on everything from homeowners who can’t afford to make improvements to those who feel Nevada’s taxes are too high to comments from those who just simply want to see people keep their property looking nice, even if it means keeping the yard mowed, pulling weeds and making sure there isn’t too much stuff cluttering up your property.
I drove around town with Robert and we looked at the town together from the perspective of what looks nice and what could use a little help. I’m happy to report that we found a lot of beautiful properties in the town and many things to be proud of. But, we also saw a number of cases where just mowing the grass, pulling some weeds and removing some clutter could really turn a place around, especially houses that are on main entryways to town or on other heavily travelled streets. We thought that properties on streets that are travelled by a lot of visitors to the town, like those by the fairgrounds or those by the high school and Gates Hall, where people come in for events and sporting events, are probably of even greater importance to keep up, because they are seen more than some other areas of the town.
Other Facebook posts have since been generated that fall into this same line of thinking. Tom Richards posted about concern over what will happen to the old Story County Medical Center building on Sixth Street, suggesting for one thing how nice it would be to have a park there again, like back in the olden days.
Residents erupted in outrage on Facebook about the vandalism at Nevada’s Hattery Park (also called North Park and Walker Park), where someone or a group of someones spray-painted over a much-loved patriotic painting on a wall there. “Where’s the respect for this town?,” many wondered. And they were disappointed when even more spray painting of signs in town occurred shortly thereafter.
Recently there was another social media discussion about how the community could come together and make improvements in our town. Janet Kingsbury Lundgren asked for brainstorming ideas on how to keep this community looking like a place that people will want to come to. Lundgren wrote: “Nevada is at present revitalizing their downtown area in many ways that will bring in more people. New housing is flourishing and sales of existing homes is picking up. Rentals are hard to come by. We have progressive schools that are faithfully supported by the city and citizens of Nevada. New companies are interested in taking a look at what we have to offer. I see pride for the improvements building in our community. I’ve noticed business owners on Old Highway 30 cleaning up their properties and setting an example for others to follow. What are we able to contribute to the revitalizing of our beautiful city? You can make a huge impact by giving of your time. I would like to see some ideas and suggestions of things to be done that would add that extra sparkle. Also would like to ask your help in volunteering or offering to help others.”
This post generated a healthy discussion from community members about ways everyone could work together and help everybody to show pride in this community.
It’s obvious that there is a great deal of interest in keeping this town looking nice and being a nice place to live. To have a top-notch community, we have to find ways to get as many residents as we can on board with agreeing to respect others by showing pride in their places of residence and business. That is the first step… getting people to take pride, and it’s obvious by all the posts and comments that have been made, that there are people willing to come up with ways to help people accomplish the basic improvements that can keep their property looking much nicer. I’m wondering if we might see the formation of a committee to help with community upkeep.
All of this leads up to a story I’ll be working on in the coming weeks… talking to our city administrator and hopefully others about their views on community pride and why it is so important for everyone to buy into the idea of having a respectable-looking town.
I hope people keep having these discussions, and I hope you will all keep an eye out for my story.
Marlys Barker is editor of the Nevada Journal.