ST. LOUIS, Mo. – A sweaty Saturday morning did not stop 200 volunteers trying to clean up the Kingsway neighborhood. A massive cleanup effort and demolition near the corner of Aubert Avenue and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. near the Urban League headquarters off Kingshighway.
“Today we’re doing our operation clean sweep which is our partnership with the RBC and the city of St. Louis where we tear down vacant abandoned derelict buildings that are unsalvageable and then we also clean up the community itself,” says Michael McMillan, President Urban League Metropolitan St. Louis. “In this case we’re doing Martin Luther King Boulevard, Kingshighway and Page from our new regional headquarters at Kingshighway all the way up to Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist church. Then we’re also planting some flowers and plants and bushes and trees for overall beautification for an overall stabilization project.”
Mayor Tishaura Jones had a rally cry for the gathered group.
“Show me what community looks like,” says Tishaura Jones to the crowd.
“This is what community looks like,” responds the volunteers in unison.
“Is that something you guys would like to see more of taking down derelict buildings,” says Clark.
“Yeah, but also putting together a plan to put something in their place,” says Tishaura Jones, St Louis Mayor. “What we don’t want to do is set the stage for gentrification. I am confident with the Urban League as a major partner here and anchor in this neighborhood that that won’t happen.”
The city of St. Louis, the Regional Business Council and a host of private construction and demolition companies donating their time and energy. Some $5 million of in-kind services have been donated to the Urban League’s Clean Sweep efforts.
The group has plans for hydroponic gardens and urban farming for this neighborhood. The Urban League held two clean sweep beautification events in 2020.
James Clark who leads the efforts, asking everyone from Lake St. Louis to East St. Louis to walk around your block, and clean up.
“On clean sweep days get up at ten o’clock and go in your neighborhood and pick up trash,” says James Clark, Vice President Public Safety Urban League Metropolitan St Louis. “Let’s unify St. Louis around neighborhood beautification and improvement. Clean sweep does a lot for the families in the immediate area. But we think this could jumps start energy throughout the St. Louis area.”
“A lot of big plans for this area as we talked about that urban farm coming here to North city and two more Clean Sweeps planned for 2021,” says Clark.