Neighborhood survey targets Riverside/Avondale, San Marco to rid streets of visual pollution

Neighborhood survey targets Riverside/Avondale, San Marco to rid streets of visual pollution

By Steve DiMattia


A dead tree. A rusted fire hydrant. A cracked sidewalk. Graffiti on a road sign.

You may travel Riverside/Avondale daily and not necessarily notice these signs of degradation among all of the otherwise historic beauty of the neighborhood – “we get used to ugly,” the saying goes.

But for 150 City Beautiful Jax and Riverside Avondale Preservation volunteers who came out recently to conduct a Neighborhood Inventory of Visual Pollution survey, they were hard to miss.

“It’s amazing how much you see when you’re in tuned to it and you actually get out of your car and walk an area,” said Bill Brinton, the president of City Beautiful Jax and a long time beautification advocate.

The volunteers gathered at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Riverside early in the morning to get their marching orders. Then, armed with only a clipboard, a pencil, a survey, a map of the targeted survey area and a camera, they enthusiastically set out in groups of two, three or four to cover the three-mile neighborhood – divided into eight areas, each with six zones – determined to identify and record every manifestation of blight in public spaces.

They diligently filled out one survey sheet for each offense, marking the location and nature, and snapping a photo with a digital camera provided by City Beautiful Jax.

“It’s a lot more work than I thought it was going to be, but it’s well worth the effort,” said Sally Robson, an 11-year Riverside resident, chair of RAP’s Green Team and an area leader in charge of organizing other volunteers. “I did it because I care about Riverside/Avondale. This is my community and where I choose to live. I’ve lived in another neighborhood that went down hill and it was very sad. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to keep Riverside/Avondale looking great.”

That matches the goal of City Beautiful Jax, which has been conducting NIVP surveys for about 15 years, then under its original name, JaxPride. The organization collates the data and then passes it on to the proper agency.

That might mean sending a list of defaced U.S. Mail Boxes to the U.S. Postal Service, a list of defaced city traffic signs to the City of Jacksonville’s Traffic Engineering Department or a list of defaced state traffic signs or utility boxes to the Florida Department of Transportation.

“We have a long history of doing this and have good results in getting responses from the appropriate agencies,” Brinton said. “It’s hard for one person to get things done, but a group can really make a difference.”

A difference was made in Springfield in June with a survey that identified 600 items. Surveys covering San Marco, Downtown, Arlington and Mandarin are planned in coming months. City Beautiful Jax also plans to put a guide online so that any group can organize an NIVP survey. They are also ramping up an NIVP Junior Program for elementary and middle/high school students.

“Our volunteers range in age, background and ethnic group,” Brinton said. “That’s the great thing about this: Anyone can get involved and help to keep their neighborhood beautiful.”

City Beautiful Jax website:


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