Each year the Environmental Section of the Sioux Falls Health Department receives approximately 1,800 calls and referrals from citizens concerned about neighborhood environmental nuisance issues in various parts of the city.  Other City departments handling code enforcement issues have significant numbers of calls regarding other code violations as well.  Approximately 30 years ago, the City began to notice an increase in the number of nuisance issues addressed each year, so a proactive approach to reduce or at least limit the increase was implemented.  The City developed a project called NICE (Neighborhood Improvement Complaint Easement) that would identify specific neighborhoods at risk of nuisance concerns and assist the neighborhoods to address those concerns.  A few years later, the City developed a similar project called KEEP (Keep Environmental Enhancement Permanent) to work in conjunction with the NICE program.

Each year these neighborhoods, designated as the NICE and KEEP areas, get a helping hand in the form of a cleanup using City volunteers.  In addition, these neighborhoods receive educational materials about the City and its services.  Through the implementation of these projects, the City has been able to keep the number of neighborhood nuisance cases static despite an increase in the City’s population since its inception.

Due to spring weather issues this year Project NICE/KEEP is being offered in the fall for 2019.  The Sioux Falls Environmental Health Division and its partnering departments have already started organizing this year’s NICE and KEEP projects.  People should watch their mail in mid-August and early September for information on the projects.

The 2019 Project NICE Phase 1 area is contained within the boundaries of South Southeastern Avenue on the west, South Sycamore Avenue on the east, East 18th Street on the north, and East 26th Street on the south.

The 2019 Project KEEP area is contained within the boundaries of North Lewis Avenue on the west, I-229 on the east, East Rice Street on the north and East 10th Street on the south.

The cleanup will be offered to these neighborhoods the week of September 9-13, 2019.  If weather does not permit cleanup at that time, an alternate week will be chosen.

After the cleanup, a follow-up survey effort ensures that the entire neighborhood is reviewed for environmental concerns and the appropriate persons notified for correction.  

These projects are affordable for the City to offer only because they focus on helping residents and are not meant to assist businesses or take the place of routine disposal costs.  The debris the City removes from the curb should only be what has been owned and discarded from the resident at that address and should not contain household garbage, animal waste, hazardous materials, electronics or create a greater cleanup effort for the City than was previously there.  Keeping recyclable items such as tires, appliances, branches and mattresses in separate piles will assist the crews with removal.  

Overall the projects have been extremely successful in meeting the goal of keeping neighborhoods healthier and safer as well as helping to improve property values.  The City has a goal to provide fair and equitable access to program benefits by citizens while achieving the goal of maintaining or improving the environmental condition of neighborhoods in Sioux Falls.

Sioux Falls is a great place to live and the organizers and staff of Project NICE and KEEP look forward to helping to keep it that way.