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Holyoke plans clean up

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

HOLYOKE The organizers of a citywide cleanup effort in April are looking for problem areas in Holyoke and the people to help clean them up.

"Holyoke Clean Sweep" was discussed last week's at Mayor Michael Sullivan's monthly downtown revitalization meeting. The city and Aquarion Operating Services sponsor the four-day program, taking place April 20 23.

Potential volunteers are asked to call 322-5510 for more information on the clean up.

Val Partyka from Aquarion explained the company became involved because litter clogs storm drains in the city putting unnecessary stress on the system. Partyka said the company believed the public needs to understood how litter impacts waste water treatment.

Aquarion has funded a video public service announcement that will air on cable television in Holyoke and has worked with the Boys and Girls Club in the creation of posters to encourage recycling and the proper disposal of trash.

The mayor said he doesn't want the clean up to be seen as a one-time event, but rather as a start in people changing their habits. Sullivan said that clean-ups such as this one work best when people are cleaning up areas in their own neighborhood.

He said the city has finite resources in dealing with trash and litter and that he is "looking for innovative ways to use our resources more effectively."

Sullivan said he would like to see programs in the city schools that would educate younger students on littering as well.

The city is developing a program that will give city employees time off if they volunteer to assist in the cleanup and he hopes that private employers in the city would consider doing the same, Sullivan said.

The mayor blasted the Keep America Beautiful organization, to which the city had part of its membership fee last year. Sullivan said the national group may have great ideas and goals but "its follow-up is terrible."

Keep American Beautiful was supposed to perform an assessment of the city. Sullivan said a representative only turned up once at attend a meeting.

"What it really comes down to is doing it yourself," Sullivan said of the anti-litter effort.

Other issues covered at the meeting included:

The plans for re-using the Maple Street Fire Station as a multi-modal center are "finally getting back on track," Sillivan announced.

"There are minor details to be work out," he said.

The plan involves creating classroom space for Holyoke Community College and Headstart on the second floor and having the first floor as a waiting area for both Peter Pan and PVTA buses.

There would a parking deck built next to the center, he added.

Sullivan said the first floor area would have space for retail and he is hoping a restaurant could be included in that area.

The city's flower box program is starting its third year. Businesses can buy an Italian Terrazza Trough-style planter from the Holyoke Planning department for $150. The Planning Department delivers the planter to the location set to go with soiled and flowers and bulbs.

All the business must do is water the plants.

For businesses that have bought a planter in the past, there is a $25 replanting fee, if the business owner doesn't want to do it him or herself.

There are 15 businesses with planters and the Planning Department would like to see more participation. For more information, contact Sharon Konstantinidis at 322-5575.