Even on Sundays, Baltimore streets will be cleaned Part-time workers to sweep extra hours on weekdays, too

September 12, 1997|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,SUN STAFF

On the seventh day, the street cleaners will no longer rest.

Even on Sundays, and for longer hours the rest of the week, Baltimore will spruce itself up by sending additional crews to sweep the streets, major alleys and shopping districts.

The Department of Public Works also is printing fliers and cards to remind Baltimoreans to recycle, clean their yards, store trash properly and help elderly neighbors.

"If we together do these cleanups, the city crews and the citizens, then ours will be a better city," Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said yesterday in announcing the "Seven Days -- Seven Ways" campaign. "Hopefully, it leads to a safer, healthier city."

The Department of Public Works is hiring 70 part-timers, or "seasonal employees," to handle the daily cleaning services.

As an added boon, the initiative is expected to save $1.3 million.

Public Works, which has 340 full-time employees assigned to cleanup duties, spends about $1.8 million a year on overtime. Employing the part-timers, who will be paid less as they work March through November, will cost $500,000 but will cut the overtime bill.

Until now, the city only spruced up the Inner Harbor and other major tourist destinations on Sundays. Beginning this week, the part-time crews will work Sundays and six extra hours daily to restore a little hometown shine throughout the city.

"When you go out to get a doughnut on Sunday, you're going to see someone at the shopping center cleaning, maybe a hokey man with a broom, or someone in a 'green machine,' " said Public Works Director George G. Balog.

Baltimore is much cleaner, Balog said, than it was three years ago, when the mayor ordered a crackdown at the Bureau of Solid Waste. After touring one trash-strewn neighborhood after another in 1994, Schmoke unhappily concluded that Charm City looked filthy. He gave the agency a two-month deadline to show progress.

The agency has since reorganized, contacted community associations and made monthly rounds of 20 city sectors to pick up bulk trash, remove graffiti and clean alleys.

"I've noticed the complaints have dropped substantially," Balog said.

Some community leaders agreed and credited the city with making strides. Others said they still could point out plenty of vacant lots and alleys littered with everything from broken bags of garbage to old mattresses and rusting appliances.

Most of 29 tiny neighborhood parks that were built after the riots in 1968 are littered and vandalized virtually daily.

The mayor acknowledged yesterday that a comprehensive review of the tiny parks is needed. Some could be improved with better lighting, he said.

"I'm seeing some good stuff, but it's mixed," said Dru Schmidt-Perkins, an environmentalist with Clean Water Action who lives in Radnor-Winston. "A lot of alleys are still pretty messy, but I think there has been an attempt to clean them up. It does help the city to be attractive."

Delores Barnes, president of Concerned Citizens for a Better Brooklyn, was pleased to hear of the longer hours. She said she doesn't have to look far for a major route for the city to clean.

"Patapsco Avenue," she said. "There are a bunch of bags filled with debris that sit there all weekend. As a taxpayer, you really feel shafted when you have to ride down the main thoroughfare looking like that."

The cleaning schedule used to be 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Now, it will be 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. There will be no additional trash collection.

Pub Date: 9/12/97

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