In 1987, the City of Burlington undertook a beautification program to transform the city. The beautification effort included tree planting, flower planting, “Green Up Day” for trash cleanup, and “Paint Up, Spruce Up Day” to paint and repair low-income and senior citizen homes.

Mayor Sanders said: “In the past, what we have done is cooperated with the business community. The business community has been very generous in this respect. Except this time, although we are going to have the largest budget we have ever had, it is probably going to be all covered by private donations…So the beauty of this particular project is that it is going to cost zero or very very little city money. I think this is a project which should not have much political controversy.”[1]

Howard Bank in Burlington donated $18,000 toward the beautification program, which Mayor Sanders said would be the most ambitious and far-reaching beautification effort for the city to date. The donation paid for most of the $23,000 project and the rest was obtained through other private donations. Mayor Sanders said the arrangement showed “what an intelligent public-private relationship is all about.”[2]

The beautification projects that year included the tree planting effort, which was a continuation of a highly successful ongoing program that had already seen more than 2,000 trees planted in previous years. Summit ash, Crusader hawthorn, crabapple, Sargent cherry, Degroot linden, Skyline locust, and hackberry were selected. A separate effort brought volunteers together to plant thousands of flowers in a dozen public spaces.[2]

“Green Up Day” saw volunteers participate in a citywide cleanup, including taking wood chips to McNeil Generation Station for mulching.

“Paint Up / Spruce Up Days” brought together community organizations to repair or paint homes of low-income or senior citizens; with paint supplied by the city.

In addition to volunteer and community organization efforts, a city beautification competition allowed homeowners, tenants, and landlords to compete for prizes.