This article appeared in the January 2017 issue of the Georgia's Cities newspaper.
The city of East Point is embarking on an aggressive plan to improve the built environment, transportation options and quality of life for its residents and visitors by moving forward with a variety of projects. These projects include a new city hall complex and a town green, which are located in the heart of the city’s historic downtown. East Point City Council also approved a master plan for a 20 mile bike path, which will provide greater connectivity for parks and schools. An integral part of this initiative is improving existing public transportation facilities including the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) train station and the over 300 MARTA bus stops located within East Point’s city limits.
“With so many projects moving forward simultaneously, as a city we wanted to explore unique funding opportunities and also increase public participation in this wonderful transformation,” said East Point Councilmember Thomas Calloway. “We chose crowd funding to best meet these goals.”
According to Calloway, 20 percent of East Point residents use the bus as their main mode of transportation, currently only five percent of the 320 East Point bus stops have trash cans. “As a result, litter accumulates on the ground, which negatively impacts property value, health and crime,” he said.
“Litter control is the least expensive form of crime prevention and economic development, and we want residents to be a part of the progress we are making,” said East Point Councilmember Alexander Gothard.
To address this situation, East Point partnered with MARTA Army on Operation CleanStop, a crowd-funding program to increase the number of trash cans at MARTA bus stops in the city.
“What makes this program so unique is that it is the first non-space specific crowd-funding program ever done in transportation,” said Calloway. “Instead of just one large crowd-funding program of $64,000, local residents, businesses and civic associations were given the opportunity to make small donations of up to $200 over a period of two months towards the bus stop of their choice.”
The city of East Point has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding, agreeing to install, service and maintain trash cans at every bus stop that reaches $200 in donation.
As of early December, the city has raised a total of $7,700 through 130 individual donations from members of the community. The donations collected thus far are sufficient to purchase 38 trash cans, which is enough to triple the number of trash cans currently in East Point.
The MARTA Army is also interested in partnering with other municipalities this year to scale out the crowd-funding program to the Greater Atlanta Region.