New iron fencing, landscaping, storm drain repairs, retaining wall repairs and lighting are among the improvements being made to beautify and increase safety at Lincoln Heights.
“We are using cost effective measures that significantly impact the lives of Lincoln Heights residents,” said Nathan Bovelle, deputy executive director of operations.
For years residents along 51st Street Northeast lived with street flooding and ponding near their houses that made it impossible to get to their front doors without getting wet. The regional and property maintenance and laborer teams began a project to locate and uncover nearly one dozen storm drains that had been covered by years upon years of erosion and silt.
This project involved digging and clearing large areas to uncover the drains. Once the drains were cleared, the team built barriers to prevent them from being covered again, and planted native shrubbery along the hills leading to the drains to help soak up some of the running water.
“So much water comes off these hills,” said Steve Firth, director of facilities. “This beautifies [the area] and the plants take care of the water.”
Long-time resident Pat Malloy pointed to the newly landscaped hill and said, “This right here was nothing but dirt, rocks, and trash.”
Other improvements include new trees in courtyards – as well as The Green Scheme-led tree planting near the Family Enrichment Center. Several retaining walls are being patched or rebuilt. Many are getting iron fencing on top of the walls to add character, but also to prevent loitering. New energy-efficient street lights also are being added.
Larger walls that formerly separated yards along 51st Street are coming down and new sod and landscaping are being installed.
“The work being done in the Lincoln Heights Community has enhanced the Office of Public Safety’s ability to deliver police services to our residents,” said Joel Maupin, chief of DCHA Police. “The removal of several brick walls has increased sightlines throughout the community, while reducing the locations where illicit activities can be conducted. These open spaces create a safer community for residents and police officers patrolling the area.”
The regional and local maintenance teams should be finished with all of the improvements by next month, Firth said.