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 26 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 N.I.C.E. (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 K.E.E.P. (Keep Environmental Enhancement Permanent) to work in conjunction with the N.I.C.E. program.

Each year these neighborhoods, designated as the N.I.C.E. and K.E.E.P. 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 a greater than 33% increase in the City’s population since its inception.

The Sioux Falls Environmental Health Division and its partnering departments have already begun organizing this year’s N.I.C.E. and K.E.E.P. projects.  People should watch their mail in mid-March and early April for information on the projects.

The 2015 Project N.I.C.E. includes two areas: 

Area A is contained within the boundaries of South Sertoma Avenue on the west, Interstate 29 on the east, West 12th Street on the north, and West 26th Street on the south. 

Area B is contained within the boundaries of South Cliff Avenue and the Big Sioux River on the west, Interstate 229 on the east, East 10th Street on the north, and the intersection of the Big Sioux River and Interstate 229 on the south.

The 2015 Project K.E.E.P. area is an area contained within the boundaries of North West Avenue on the west, North Minnesota Avenue on the east, West Russell Street on the north, and West 9th Street on the south.

The cleanup will be offered to these neighborhoods the week of April 13-17, 2015.  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, hazardous materials, electronics or create a greater cleanup effort for the City than was previously there. 

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 N.I.C.E. and K.E.E.P. look forward to helping to keep it that way.