Mayor touts plan to clean up city

March 24, 1995|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,Sun Staff Writer

Shedding his suit jacket for a windbreaker, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke yesterday strode through a trash-laden alley in Park Heights to spotlight his latest program to clean up Baltimore.

The program -- unveiled in January and begun March 1 -- involves large-scale monthly cleanups of neighborhoods on a rotating basis, in addition to twice-weekly trash pickups.

"This is not just a special strike force or a one-day effort. This is now the way the city's going to do business," the mayor said at a news briefing held at Park Heights Elementary School, shortly before leading members of the media on his alley tour.

It was the third time in three months that Mr. Schmoke has held his weekly news conference away from City Hall. And, with the 1995 mayoral primary less than six months away, this foray in particular had the feel of a campaign event.

The event came a day after City Council President Mary Pat Clarke, who is challenging Mr. Schmoke in his bid for a third term, unveiled an education platform calling for swifter discipline for disruptive students and cuts in administrative overhead. Mrs. Clarke said she wanted to limit the amount of money allocated to school headquarters to 3 percent of the system's budget; administrative expenses now account for 4.9 percent of the $632 million budget, figures show.

Yesterday, Mr. Schmoke said he already had instituted school-based management and an alternative school. "So she has no new ideas about education, but that doesn't surprise me at all," he said in response to a question.

As for trash, Mr. Schmoke said he hoped the city's new effort would encourage residents to take more pride in keeping their neighborhoods clean.

"What we're trying to show is that the community itself is going to look different and people are going to feel better about themselves when it's clean," the mayor said.

In addition to the neighborhood cleanup program, public works officials said they have identified a "dirty dozen" areas for attention.

These include lower Charles Village, below 25th Street; Broadway in Fells Point and Old York Road between 33rd Street and Cold Spring Lane.

"We're not only going to clean them once a month, we're going to concentrate on them continuously," said George G. Balog, director of the Department of Public Works.

In the first 15 days of the operation in neighborhoods in Southwest, Southeast and Northeast Baltimore, officials said, crews picked up 3,284 tons of trash and debris, about twice the previous rate of collection. They also said the crews removed graffiti from 184 streetlight poles; cleaned 57 median strips and 43 rights-of-way and cleared 591 storm drains.

On a designated day each month, grime in one of 20 sectors of the city will be attacked by more than 170 workers, 49 trucks and nine bobcats, small front-end loaders, officials said.

Park Heights residents said their community was overdue for a thorough cleaning.

"It's time -- we need it," said Henry Thompson, an organizer with the Park-Reist Corridor Coalition.

But in Waverly, where cleanup crews visited this week, the effort got mixed evaluations.

"They picked up an awful lot of trash. It does help," said Chris White, 27. "The problem is, not enough people in the neighborhood are keeping up. If everyone would do a little bit more in their own yards, it would help a whole lot."

But Kirk Simmons, a mail carrier whose route includes the neighborhood, said he didn't notice any change.

"It still looks the same to me."

DIRTY DOZEN

Here are the "dirty dozen" areas of the city identified by the Department of Public Works for continuous cleaning:

1. Lower Charles Village, from 25th St. to North Ave., and Howard St. to Greenmount Ave.

2. Druid Hill Ave. & McCulloh St., from North Avenue to Martin Luther King Blvd.

3. West Lombard & West Pratt streets, from Martin Luther King Blvd. to Smallwood St.

4. Greenmount Ave., from 25th St. to Cold Spring Lane

5. North Ave., from Edgewood St. to Rose St.

6. Eastern Ave., from Linwood Ave. to Ponca St.

7. Broadway, from Baltimore St. to Thames St.

8. Park Heights Ave., from Cold Spring Lane to Northern Parkway

9. Monument St., from Broadway to Highland Ave.

10. Old York Road, from 33rd St. to Cold Spring Lane

11. Washington Boulevard, from Greene St. to Carey St.

12. Liberty Heights, from Hillsdale Road to Howard Park, and Gwynn Oak Avenue, from Howard Park to Liberty Heights.

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