North End residents were told to expect an immediate improvement in the cleanliness of the neighborhood’s streets at this week’s meeting of the North End/Waterfront Residents’ Association (NEWRA). Pulling together city agencies, District 1 City Councilor Salvatore LaMattina announced an extensive new street cleaning program that starts Monday, April 12th. Here are the highlights:
- The Green Machine will clean the streets every night, starting at 10 pm.
- A full-time cleaner, on-foot, will be assigned to the North End and a 2nd cleaner will start in May for the summer season.
- Code enforcement will be patrolling daily for trash violations of both residential and commercial properties.
- Rodent control will be in the neighborhood from 4am-7am several times per week to bait and place traps. Manholes and catch basins will be a focus area.
- The Green Ticket law goes into effect on May 29th in Boston. Trash violators will have fines added to their property tax bill. LaMattina said, “This will wake up absentee landlords.”
- Year-round street cleaning will continue even after the summer instead of stopping in November. (To avoid towing, residents are encouraged to sign up for the City’s No-Tow alert system).
The North End is the first neighborhood to benefit from the pilot program. If successful, the City officials intend to replicate it in other communities. In addition to the Councilor, attending the meeting were Frank O’Brien from Public Works and John Meaney from Environmental Services. The city officials thanked NEWRA’s Clean Streets Committee and residents like Anne Pistorio for their persistent communication which has helped the city design the new program. Meany said, “This is the most extensive cleanliness effort that has ever been introduced in the City of Boston.”
LaMattina’s previous proposal to limit trash disposal to 5am-9am in the morning (instead of 5pm the night before) has been dropped because of the City’s contract with its vendor. Still, officials said they intend to better enforce existing regulations for household trash disposal.
A new city-wide anti-littering marketing program will follow in the next few months. NEWRA’s Clean Streets committee has asked for a direct mail campaign, although it is uncertain if there is funding for that as part of the new campaign. Instead, a drop may be done by city personnel to neighborhood properties with trash and cleanliness regulations.
“The new trash campaign will focus on putting trash in containers, rather than bags on the street,” according to O’Brien. Public Works reports significant improvement in rodent control when barrels and containers are used instead of plastic bags. The North End has always had a problem with containerization because many buildings do not have interior space for trash barrels. O’Brien wants to encourage the use of containers by as many residences as possible. Residents and officials agreed that property redevelopments should design space for an interior trash room.
Restaurants are already required to use containers in their trash disposal. LaMattina said he has received feedback that some restaurants are not doing their part and he intends to follow up with these businesses.
Frank O’Brien noted that he called in 5 trash violations to the Mayor’s 24-hour hotline (617-635-4500) during a two block walk on his way to the meeting. Interestingly, officials reported that the North End is the best neighborhood in complying with recycling regulations by using clear plastic bags for Friday pickup.
Petro Torres, has been on the rat patrol in the North End for about a month. He is very popular among residents who appreciate his work, as recently reported in the Globe.
Residents report a consistent problem with trash pickers that tear apart the trash bags left on the street overnight. Officials agreed there is no obvious solution to this issue, because it is tough to catch them in the act.
More street barrels have been placed on the streets and parks in the North End. However, officials report that residents are hesitant to have barrels in front of their property. Unfortunately, Public Works continues to find household trash in and around the street barrels. O’Brien said they are looking at more creative ideas such as “nice dumpsters” such as found in dense European neighborhoods.
NEWRA attendees thanked Councilor LaMattina, Frank O’Brien and John Meaney for developing the new neighborhood cleanliness plan and for working with the Clean Streets Committee. Residents were encouraged to attend the next Clean Streets meeting on Tuesday, April 13th at the ABCD Center, 1 Michelangelo Street. A representative from the Mayor’s Office will be attending to discuss the Mayor’s Hotline. See cleanstreets.newra.org for more information.