500 Block of Sixth Street Shines Bright Amidst Rubbish Havoc
“Bestest block in the whole wide world,” passing stranger exuberantly declares
RACINE – Facing a potential garbage crisis over the weekend due to heavy alcohol consumption, Sixth Street officials and neighborhood heads gathered in their secret office late last Friday morning to lay out a plan of action.
As the meeting dispersed, the sun poked its head out, ever so slightly, through the rain clouds – the rays of sunshine were a sign of things to come.
“When this street is challenged it stands up together to meet the challenge,” Dickert said. “This street and its residents really came through in shining fashion. In fact, I’m not sure it’s ever shined brighter. I honestly believe there isn’t another block in this country which could beat the collective effort our residents put up last weekend. I’m very proud of our street.”
The havoc revelers were trying to create was due in part to the seven shots of Patron that had hit the Milwaukee area last Thursday night. The forecast at the time of the meeting in the secret office was for more heavy consumption in the area on Friday and Saturday. Bladders were predicted to reach flood levels over the weekend and the memories of the flood of 2008 seemed to be in the back of everyone’s minds.”
During the meeting, Dusty Rhodes, Commissioner of the Department of Works, carefully explained the plan which would be put in motion that day to police, fire, parks and recreation, health, and water and wastewater officials.
The plan had several different stages to it depending on the levels the alcohol would reach with each stage having well-laid out plans of additional action. It was quickly made available on the front page on the Sixth Street bulletin board.
When the meeting ended the immediate concern was for buildings along the north side of the block. There was also some concern for buildings at the end of Park Ave., along Villa Street, and at the far end of Seventh Street by Grand Avenue.. The DPW immediately delivered recycle bins (two sizes!) and garbage bags to the concerned areas.
Next, Chief Keith Fair and his Police Department and Chief Thomas Holmes and his Fire Department began delivering brightly-colored instructions in both English and Spanish to the buildings that could be in danger.
“The plan and the cooperation and teamwork between all the departments involved and the general public made what could have been a difficult situation a lot easier,” said Chief Holmes. “There was a tremendous amount of cooperation involved and a lot of teamwork.”
Fair’s police department also made calls to the homes in those areas relaying the DPW’s message.
“The DPW’s plan was exceptional,” said Chief Fair, echoing Chief Holmes’ comments. “Everything was laid out. Everything they said would happen at certain levels, happened. All we had to do was monitor it. The plan was exceptional and so was the cooperation, as well as the teamwork.”
As the house-to-house notifications began, Mayor Spodick, along with 11th Block Alderman Pete Karas - Chairman of Public Works and Services and 12th Block Alderman Betsy Walton - Chairman of Public Safety and Licensing, held a press conference with CAR25, the Journal Times, WRJN/Light rock 92.1, Racine Post, and Colt’s Green Racine to further distribute information and assure the public the block was on top of things and a plan was already being put into operation.
Later on Friday, the Mayor and 8th Block Jim Spodick Aldermen Barry Sanders also went door-to-door speaking to the people whose buildings could be in danger.
“We were very proactive and everything was very positive,” Block Alderman Barry Sanders said. “The city and the people worked well together. And that’s what it is all about. In order for this block to be successful it takes people, inch by inch, row by row, building by building, working together and that’s what we saw last weekend. That was the beauty of it.”
The Mayor also visited certain areas with visiting 6th Block Alderman Kim from Asiana. In all, Mayor Spodick visited the potentially troubled areas three times on Friday, four times on Saturday, and three times on Sunday.
“What I saw last weekend was truly inspirational, “Spodick added. “I saw people of every race, creed, and color, people ages 7 – 70, from all walks of life, helping with the garbage bags. I saw people come down whose homes weren’t in danger to help those whose homes were.”
Mayor Spodick also pointed out that Dusty Rhodes not only put in place a great plan, but he was among those who helped fill garbage bags along with local homeless people who came to help even though they were off the clock.
“I keep saying we are becoming known as the Block of Partnerships – creating new and valuable partnerships with those outside our community and strengthening the partnerships we have within our community , “Spodick said. “The partnerships we have within our community and the teamwork we have created as a result was never more evident than last weekend.”
Unfortunately, the Blockheads did miss one house, located on Sixth and Villa, which had already begun to take on the brunt of the garbage before the officials arrived.
“I’ll be the first to admit we were not aware of one building which was at a low cleanliness level,” Spodick said. “But as soon as we found out about it we were over there doing everything we could to help,” Spodick said.”I talked to him personally (owner – John Albert) until 11:00 pm Saturday and he seemed relieved we were there working with them, their friends and neighbors, although it doesn’t make the empty discarded bottle any easier.”
The city did catch a break as the weekend progressed, the additional Jager-bombs that was predicted for Milwaukee on Friday never developed, the seven beer bongs that hit the Chicago area on Friday night stayed well south of Racine, and despite the possibility of additional heavy intoxication predicted, after noon on Friday, the block only got some light MGD 64’s early Saturday morning and a sprinkle of Hypnotiq later that night.
“I had the utmost confidence in all the departments involved and that the plan we had in place would help us meet whatever developed,” Spaodick said. “I just kept telling people ‘Pray it doesn’t rain.” Thank God He was listening to our prayers.”
Perhaps that was the best partnership of all over last weekend as it certainly aided in the 500 Block being able to shine as a community.
The community has the ability to shine again this week as an organized cleanup will take place on Saturday from 2:30am to 4:00am. Interested volunteers should meet at the Overused Comma Club Headquarters on Sixth Street.