Downtown cleanup efforts get help from local groups

Downtown cleanup efforts get help from local groups

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - Downtown Wichita Falls Steering Committee members and volunteers continue to clean up the streets and sidewalks of downtown in hopes of making the district more vibrant.

They are further along than they initially imagined.

Organizer and Steering Committee Member Cody Magana said the movement wouldn't have been possible without the help of all volunteers, starting the very first weekend.

"A few extra people showed up that weekend," Magana said. "And the following weekend a few more showed up. So now we have 15 to 20 people coming out here. A great turnout."

It all started in June when the downtown steering committee wasn't happy with the look of the central business district.

That is when Magana decided to go all around downtown one Saturday morning taking pictures of eyesores.

The next weekend he and some of his family and friends met to begin fixing them.

Magana was surprised with how many people showed interest and decided to make it a weekly event.

"Part of that is probably because we didn't realize how much work there was to be done," Magana said. "We thought we'd have it done in one weekend."

Weeds have been pulled, trash and rotted tree branches have been picked up, and even bus benches have been built.

"Last weekend we were out trimming some trees and cleaning up streets and one of the property owners on Scott Street came out just asking what we were doing like a lot of them have been," Magana said. "We told them that we're just out cleaning up and doing our part for the community. They said this is really nice. We looked over and we were standing by an old bus bench that was wooden and kind of falling apart. They said you know, this looks kind of run down and I'm a woodworker. I might be able to fix that."

That is exactly what the business owner did. Lots of people have volunteered, most notably members of Dexter Learning and Cafe Con Leche.

"The downtown cleanup was an opportunity to take extreme ownership," Founder of Dexter Learning, Michael Olaya said. "So we lead by example. And we don't have to ask permission from lawmakers or bonds to pass. Actually, the responsibility is on us."

"We know that in order to foster economic growth in this city, we must have a vibrant and welcoming downtown," Founder of Cafe Con Leche, Gonzalo Robles added. "And that is why we're working."

Magana said he couldn't be more proud of everyone who has helped out, but added there's a long way to go.

"I think it kind of gives everybody else the drive to keep going and do more," Magana said. "Just seeing how many other people want to be involved and how many people are interested in improving their community however they can."

The program isn't over. Saturday will be the last time people will gather outside the Farmers Market at 8:30 a.m. for cleanup.

After that Magana will shift gears to more formal monthly gatherings to maintain the streets and sidewalks.

For that Magana hopes to have sign-up sheets and partner with some of the larger groups in town.

The Downtown Steering Committee will continue to look at other things they can do to improve the district's streetscape.

If you want to help, you can call the City of Wichita Falls or anyone on the committee.

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