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WEDNESDAY, MAY 4, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Before extracting splinters, city must remove own plank

There is no excuse for the dilapidated state of the city-owned former Elks lodge on First Avenue Southeast.

Regardless of which city department has responsibility for the upkeep - last year it was Public Works and now it is the Beautification and Landscape Division of Parks and Recreation - the building's appearance is deplorable and its state of disrepair borders on dangerous to passersby.

It is not as if the building is off the beaten path. It is across the street from the new county jail construction site and visible from the upper-floor windows of City Hall.

Yet somehow, as Beautification Coordinator Linda Eubanks put it, the property's maintenance got lost in the shuffle.

The city has invested a lot of time and money over the years in its worthwhile beautification effort. Civic volunteers encourage private landowners to improve the appearance of their properties and recognize the most successful in their efforts.

The city also operates at the other end of the beautification spectrum. It sends inspectors out to cite private property that owners allow to deteriorate. This, too, is an important part of the beautification effort, ensuring that owners remove blemishes from the landscape before buildings, then blocks, then entire neighborhoods eventually become blighted.

It is unfortunate that some property owners need a reminder to maintain the appearances of their grounds. Ideally, a sense of pride would motivate all of us to beautify our property.

The city must retain beautification as a top priority because it has a vested interest in the value of property within its boundaries. As property values increase, city coffers grow.

But city leaders must give more than lip service to the endeavor. In the beautification effort, the city must lead by example.

How can city inspectors pull out rulers to measure the height of weeds on private land downtown when they allow trees to grow through a porch on a city-owned building across the street?

To its credit, the city had a large crew working at the former Elks property Tuesday morning, the day after an article and photos appeared on the front page of THE DAILY.

We hope to never again have to publish such an article and photos.

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