By Anthony Cook
Magic City Blight Busters will have a cleanup day Saturday in the Fountain Heights neighborhood in and around downtown Birmingham.
Blight Busters is a mission of Birmingham United Neighborhoods (BUN) that works to inspire residents in eight participating neighborhoods to get more involved in reducing blight in their communities.
“This Saturday will be the second time the Magic City Blight Mobile has been in Fountain Heights,” said Darlena Battle, vice president of the Fountain Heights Neighborhood Association. “Actually, this time the Urban Impact reached out to me to do a community cleanup. They generously offered to solicit volunteers and bring supplies.”
The eight neighborhoods are North Titusville, South Titusville, West Goldwire, Riley-Travellick, Fountain Heights, Rising-West Princeton, Belview Heights and Druid Hills. The hope is to eventually expand the program to Birmingham’s other 92 neighborhoods.
“We usually average around 20 volunteers each cleanup,” Battle said. “We are hoping to have at least double that amount this week. We are encouraging our residents, churches and businesses to come out to help for a couple hours from 8 to 10.”
Fountain Heights extends to Morris Avenue and includes several businesses. Urban Impact, which creates economic opportunity and revitalization of the Historic 4th Avenue Business District, is one of those businesses.
“It is our hope that more of our business neighbors hear about the cleanup day and join us Saturday or reach out to us to partner in hosting a cleanup day,” Battle said.
Volunteers will gather at 8 a.m. at the Fountain Heights Recreation Center, 1101 115th Ave. N., and spend two hours cutting grass and picking up trash throughout the neighborhood, especially in vacant lots and around abandoned houses, Battle said. All tools and materials will be provided. Face masks must be worn at all times, and social distancing will be enforced.
“Although we may cut a lot or two, we will focus heavily on picking up litter in the neighborhood this weekend since we are expecting a larger turnout,” she said. “Teams will be sent to different blocks. This way we can all be socially distant.”
The leaders in each of the neighborhoods that Magic City Blight Busters has visited all say the cleanup days increase morale and give the residents a sense of pride, Battle said.
“One of the most impactful parts of BUN is that each week leaders from the eight neighborhoods join together to help clean each other’s areas,” she said. “When my neighbors saw people from other communities coming to help clean the overgrown lots and picking up litter from their neighborhood, they’ve been asking, ‘When is the next one?’
“When I hear those comments and questions about the cleanup days,” she said, “I know that Magic City Blight Busters is making a positive impact in our community.”
Community service programs that have had difficulty finding projects for their participants due to COVID-19 can receive community service credit for helping with Blight Busters, according to Battle. Click here to sign up to volunteer. For more information, visit www.blightbusters.co or go to the Magic City Blight Busters page on Facebook.