The City of Bonney Lake, WA is located on the fringe of the Seattle-Tacoma suburban area and has a population of approximately 21,000. The City's scenic views of Mt. Rainier, Tacoma and its proximity to Lake Tapps, along with the recent real estate boom have contributed to a significant population increase; a population that has doubled over the last ten years. With this population influx, City public areas such as parks, gateways (right), intersections, and trails become worn, tattered, and cluttered with debris due to increased usage and the City's inability to keep up with maintenance of these areas. Also some have sensed the community growing apart with all the new faces and businesses. Confronted with these challenges, the City of Bonney Lake and citizens decided to take action.
In 2004, the idea of an annual event to beautify the city was presented to the City Council and the Chamber of Commerce by the local members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as a way for churches and community volunteer organizations to work with the city and local businesses to permanently improve the visual appeal of the city. The idea aligned perfectly with the vision of the city and its businesses and an unaffiliated community group called "Beautify Bonney Lake" was created. This group's goal is to dedicate one day each year to beautify the community's City property and public areas. BBL solicits volunteers and sponsors to provide equipment, materials, and supplies to undertake various projects designed to enhance the City's natural beauty and improve its quality of life.
The BBL annual event allows any group, individual, or business to participate in the beautifying event. In 2004, the project included cleaning up SR-410 and Allan Yorke Park with nearly 200 volunteers participating. Most of these volunteers came from local church groups, City staff, City council members, and sponsoring businesses. In 2005, the number of volunteers increased to over 300 and saw a broader mix of individuals, community-based groups and businesses participate, including local high school football players and their parents. The 2005 project focused on landscaping the Ascent Gateway monument area, cleaning up a number of City intersections and areas surrounding Lake Bonney, and improving a City trail near Bonney Lake Elementary School.
All volunteers are provided free T-shirts with frontal logo design (above left) and a list of sponsors. The purpose of the T-shirt is to promote unity among volunteers, create an identity for the event, and provide promotional opportunities for sponsoring businesses. The Target Corporation was a primary sponsor of past events. Other past sponsoring businesses included Columbia Bank, Garden of Eden Puyallup, Barker Enterprises, 410 Rentals, Starbucks, Priced Right Print and Sign, Sports Connection, and Godfather's Pizza.
The spruced-up public areas and the growing public support for the BBL event tell a story of progress of a City and its citizens seeking community beautification and revival. The amount of donations for the first year was $3,750, followed by $7,000 for the second year, all mostly coming from local businesses. Since the inception of the BBL event, the City of Bonney Lake and tax payers have saved nearly $25,000 in labor costs and materials. Also, the tremendous support shows a community coming together. "This brings us together and starts the process of people getting involved," said Mayor Neil Johnson, then a member of the city council and chairman of the committee. "It's great for the community."
In early 2006, the BBL organization received IRS approval to be a tax-exempt 501C3 non-profit corporation. The purpose of the 501C3 status is to encourage future donations and community volunteerism. BBL hopes to continue promoting and assisting in City beautification projects such as tree and shrub plantings, beauty spreading, and painting, instructing and educating the public, and lessening the burdens of government in combating community deterioration. The City of Bonney Lake actively participates on the Board of Directors (above) and in this event.