North End residents believe that enforcement of existing trash and cleanliness ordinances is key to cleaning up the neighborhood. That was the message at this week’s Clean Streets meeting, a volunteer neighborhood committee of the North End/Waterfront Residents’ Association (NEWRA).
The Green Ticket law is helping, according to the committee, but it is not enough without more enforcement by city officials. This was the conclusion also by Naomi Paul, co-chair, as she reviewed the issues from a recent meeting with Joanne Massaro, newly appointed Commissioner of the Dept. of Public Works (DPW). (See New Public Works Commissioner Visits NEWRA.)
For example, Carmen on Union St. reported seeing 30-40 bags of rubbish on Hull St., put out last Sunday morning. Trash is not supposed to be put out until after 5:00 pm. He also complained about the trashpickers that went through the pile all day and night leaving a mess everywhere.
Co-chairs, Naomi and Patricia, said that green tickets are being given to the building owners. The ticket goes under the door or is taped to the outside. If an absentee owner is known via the City’s list, the ticket is mailed to them.
“It is about education, I really believe that,” said Naomi. “I can’t walk from Prince to Cross or Commercial St. without seeing a violation. And I’m tired of calling the Mayor’s Hotline since it is not making a difference.” Michael B. added, “Code enforcement has to be a big part of the solution.”
An attendee asked if DPW could power wash the sidewalks? With little rain, they are filthy. DPW said they could do specific spots but they depend mostly on business and property owners for sidewalk washing.
Janet G. reported a lot of paint on a Fulton St. sidewalk after being thrown out as residential trash. First, it is a violation to put paint in the regular trash, but then she saw a homeless guy dragging an open can down the street leaving a large paint trail.
Chris Y. said he sees the City’s hoagies, manual street cleaners, just dragging the broom down the street without picking any trash up. “They don’t even have the right type of brooms and scoops.”
“Can DPW get more people in the North End? Probably not with the current budget,” said Frank O’Brien, Assistant Commissioner of Public Works who attended this week’s meeting. “Keep doing what you’re doing. The Commissioner has heard more about the trash in the North End more than any other neighborhood.”
Attendees felt the Clean Streets Committee is “spinning its wheels.” O’Brien said that message will be delivered to the Commissioner.
The Committee believes that Code Enforcement needs to get more involved. In order to assist enforcement, the group is making a list of addresses of trash violations.
In a follow-up email, the group asked for neighborhood help:
“We need your help with spotting trash violations. When you see a trash violation, please note the DAY, TIME and VIOLATION and email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are forwarding these violations to code enforcement so they can see what we see on a daily basis. We need everyone’s help with this to get more code enforcement out here during the day.”
The Committee said it will invite Mike Macken from Code Enforcement to the next Clean Streets Committee meeting.
“Same Day Pick-up” Being Studied
The group was disappointed that the City extended the existing contract to 2014 with Capitol for residential trash removal without any change in terms. Some believe that a change in pickup hours would improve the “trash on the streets” issue. Apparently, a contract change would have been more expensive at a time when the City was under budget pressures. Currently, Capital starts its pickups at 7:00 am, 3 times per week, Monday/Wednesday/Friday.
Public Works is exploring the concept of “Same Day Pickup” where residents would have a window from midnight to 7:00 am to put out their garbage. Currently, residents can legally place their trash out at 5:00 pm the day before pickup. As a result, there is trash on the streets six of seven days each week.
Some residents believe a change would be a major inconvenience and the group is not sure how the neighborhood would react to the “Same Day” idea.
Year-Round Mechanical Street Cleaning
As previously reported, the City has offered year-round mechanical street cleaning that would continue past November, when it normally stops for the winter months. DPW’s Frank O’Brien said there are two scenarios regarding how to deal with moving cars when it snows.
1. If snow is forecast, DPW would communicate with residents so they would know by a certain time, such as 10:00 pm the night before that they don’t have to move their car. DPW could expand the “No Tow” program so that mass phone calls and emails go out.
2. Irrespective of weather, the parking restrictions stay in place. No communication needed.
O’Brien also said they could also do it for just 2 months, rather than 4 winter months (i.e., excluding January & February).
“I don’t want to go through another winter getting pictures of a dirty North End,” said O’Brien. “We will have to do a massive educational campaign.”
Good Neighbor Recognition Award Winner is “North Bennet Street School”
Following the July award to Spagnuolo’s Restaurant, the Clean Streets Committee voted to award the August 2010 award to the North Bennet Street School. The school has been a finalist in past months and neighbors credit the management and staff for keeping their sidewalks and gutters consistently clear of trash and rubbish. Other finalists that will be given consideration in future months included the Corner Café on Prince St. and Lucia’s Restaurant on Hanover St. If you would like to nominate a business or property for the award, send an email to email@example.com.
Business Sub-Committee Continues Initiatives
Chris Young from the NE Chamber of Commerce was applauded for his significant contributions to the Clean Streets Committee. The most recent initiative is to install Dogi-Pots in neighborhood parks. So far, they have been installed in the “Gassy” park on Prince Street with four more going in soon, including the Richmond St. park. Each one holds 400 bags. After a month, the “Gassy” pot still has bags.
A Smoke Pot was placed outside of Tia’s Restaurant in Christopher Columbus Park, courtesy of Chris. The pots seem to be working and committee members thought more might be needed in other locations.
Chris also reported the ongoing distribution of the Trash Tip Sheet, in the form of a large refrigerator magnet. They are available for free at the Prince Postale shop or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Real Estate Sub-Committee
With school starting soon, Tina B. has distributed the trash tips sheet and magnets at all the realtors’ offices. Over 100 magnets have been requested and delivered. Realtors are including them in their moving packets as well. Landlords are encouraged to also inform their tenants of the trash rules and can get the information and magnets by emailing email@example.com.
Rodent Control Sub-Committee
Anne P. has covered about 50% of the North End with the Pedro Torres who works for the City on rodent control issues in the neighborhood. They have identified over 200 locations with problems and unfortunately, rat sightings are increasing. Anne believes that less aggressive baiting is to blame.
Anne reports that rats reproduce every 30 days, with 12-15 pups per litter. This makes the problem an ongoing challenge with new rats always being introduced to the population.
On a positive note, Janet reports the rat situation was much better this year during the Fisherman’s Feast. Feast cleanup was also reported as good this year, but still not 100%.
The next Clean Streets Committee meeting is scheduled for September 14th, 7:00 pm at the Nazzaro Center. In the meantime, residents and businesses can report issues to the Mayor’s Hotline at 617 635 4500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Public Works Commissioner Visits NEWRA