|By Paula Canning|
HOLYOKE The ongoing effort to clean up the city's streets was the focus of last Thursday's monthly revitalization meeting, as those in attendance discussed various ways to eliminate litter in the downtown area.
"Our approach to cleanliness in downtown is that it is everyone's responsibility," said Mayor Michael Sullivan. "You can't expect the city to take all of the responsibility for it."
In order to encourage this type of community involvement, Assistant to the Mayor Kathy Anderson is spearheading an effort to resume the city's involvement in the Keep America Beautiful, a national non-profit community improvement program that the city was affiliated with 12 years ago.
According to Anderson, changing the individual's attitude about keep the city's streets trash-free is at the cornerstone of the program.
She said that the program, which focuses on litter prevention, beautification, community improvement, and waste reduction, calls for the entire community's involvement in making the community a better place to live and work.
The program can help a community, according to Anderson, by providing education, guidance and certain resources, and also by placing a focus on results.
She said that Keep America Beautiful tries to encourage the effort of the community to be ongoing, rather than just a one-time major clean-up activity.
"In this way, the people of the neighborhood take ownership of their own communities in trying to make them cleaner," she said.
Those who attended the meeting discussed both the problems and possible solutions to reducing trash in the downtown area.
Sullivan spoke on the overflowing trash cans present on the streets corners, explaining that it has been suggested that the city remove the trash cans.
He said that, although this may seem like a counter productive idea, removing trash cans at Yellowstone National Park has proved an effective way to reduce trash.
Another suggestion that Sullivan put up for discussion was hanging wicker baskets that small trash items could be deposited into, in front of all of the downtown storefronts.
He explained that this was practiced a few years ago, and that it would call for the store owners to empty the trash from the baskets.
Dan Bresnahan of the city's Department of Public Health, explained that a great deal of the problem with trash clean-up is "that a lot of people just don't care."
He explained that in many of the downtown apartment buildings, residents will throw their trash outside of their third floor apartments windows, instead of properly placing it in a dumpster.
Bresnahan explained that the most difficult facet of the problem is enforcing the regulations regarding trash, as it is difficult to identify those who have violated the rules.
"You can try and go after the landlord, for example, until you're blue in the face, but it won't accomplish anything" he said. "If people don't care, it is very difficult to do something about it."
Bresnahan said that one idea that could be considered is having a shoot that would allow residents to send their trash down from the upper level apartments and into an awaiting dumpster.
He also suggested purchasing a trash compactors.
Sullivan suggested having business owners take the money that they pay for their dumpsters and give it to the city to fund the proper equipment and staff to pick up their trash on a daily basis.
Jim Marcyoniak, director of operations for Greater Holyoke Inc. (GHI) said that he supports Sullivan on this idea.
"That's exactly what New York City does, and it is one of the cleanest cities," he said.
Marcyoniak raised a problem that this would pose, as small enough trucks would be needed to get to dumpsters located in alleys.
He said that Westfield has similar trucks, and that it has worked well for the city.
According to Sullivan education is going to be key in approaching the problem.
"We want people to realize that the trash is not just unsightly, but that it lessens the quality of life for the residents," he said.