Approximately 200 volunteers spent three morning hours on Aug. 27 removing litter and illegal signs, and clearing storm drains along Memorial Drive.
“Good things are happening on Memorial Drive and we just want to be part of it,” said Joe Bentley, a volunteer who lives in the Dunaire community off Memorial Drive.
Organized by the recently formed Memorial Drive Merchants Association, the clean-up effort was a way residents could help “try to get our property values back up,” said Marguerite Girard, who lives off South Indian Creek Drive.
“That’s the plan,” said Girard, who has lived in DeKalb County for 26 years. “Nobody’s going anywhere in this economy.
“It takes a village to turn DeKalb County, in particular the Memorial Drive corridor, back into what it once was,” Girard said. “I think we can get it back to where it once was or at least close.”
Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton said the volunteers were “helping to make revitalization of this area a possibility, a probability, something we’re really going to do.”
“This is a wonderful day in DeKalb County,” Sutton said. “When I first ran for this office, my No. 1 focus was to revitalize Memorial Drive. And this is one of the steps it takes to make it clean and beautiful.”
Along with cleaning up the area, Sutton said a new public safety initiative will be implemented soon to improve the safety in the Memorial Drive corridor. Plans are also in the works to start a Memorial Drive community investment district in which businesses in the district would tax themselves and use the proceeds for local improvements.
“We have to let the whole world know that we’re open for business,” Sutton said. “We want to be able to create jobs here. We want people to be able to shop here, dine here, be entertained here and we have to make Memorial Drive that golden corridor that I’ve been talking about.”
In addition to Sutton, the volunteers were joined by several elected officials including DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis, Commissioner Kathie Gannon, and state Reps. Karla Drenner and Michelle Henson.
“This is what it’s all about: everybody rolling up their sleeves and working together,” Ellis said. “We’re working hard for Memorial Drive and this corridor.”
Drenner said she has been working to revitalize the Memorial Drive corridor for 10 years.
“When I was first elected, they said all good ideas take 10 years, so I think it’s just now starting to catch on,” Drenner said.
“You can see from the level of people that are out here today, people are taking it seriously,” Drenner said.” There’s a wide variety of elected officials and I don’t think it’s just about a photo op.”