Volunteers sweep through city

Cleanup effort draws 3,000 people

April 22, 2001|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

Thousands of Baltimore residents took to the streets yesterday with brooms, rakes and shovels as part of a second city cleanup.

City officials estimated that 3,000 residents in more than 150 neighborhood groups participated in the event, known as the Super Spring Sweep Thing and coordinated with Earth Day.

In West Baltimore, Darryl McCready-El didn't wait for his volunteer cohort to arrive at 9 a.m. at the I Can't We Can Inc. recovery program. McCready-El began sweeping outside the building at 2901 Clifton St. by himself.

"It's time to give back," McCready-El said. "Plus, it's good exercise."

Before long, he was joined by George Wees, who issued a proclamation to the two dozen volunteers assembling at the house.

"I'm here to work," Wees shouted. "If you don't want to work, stay away from me."

In Charles Village, Gerard Busnuk talked into a squawking radio, coordinating that neighborhood's cleanup.

"Do you have the graffiti list?" Busnuk asked.

The employee of the Charles Street Improvement District regularly cleans the neighborhood streets with the help of people ordered by courts to do community service. Busnuk, however, picked up additional volunteers yesterday as part of the city cleanup effort, he said.

One of the volunteers was Chris Jensen, who jumped into his truck with a couple of gallons of paint and some brushes. "I'm a Charles Villager," Jensen said. "And the cleanup is a good idea."

Last year's inaugural two-day cleanup netted 2,500 tons of trash. This year the event was limited to one day, and community groups were each asked to designate five "hot spots" that they wanted cleaned.

City Public Works Director George L. Winfield said yesterday's cleanup culminated a weeklong city effort to remove trash left over from the winter. Yesterday, the city provided brooms, rakes, shovels and dump trucks at the designated locations.

"We're trying to get people to come out and clean and take care of their area," Winfield said.

Mayor Martin O'Malley, who started the cleanup project last year, spent the afternoon touring neighborhoods and thanking volunteers. One of his stops was Ellwood Park in East Baltimore, where volunteers were cleaning a vacant lot.

"It's a nonstop battle, but we're making some headway," O'Malley said of the trash. "The neat thing about this is, as people hear about it during the day, they get involved."

In East Baltimore, Karrie Smith had the unenviable task of cleaning an alley strewn with trash behind McElderry Street. The 16-year-old wore a surgical mask to help prevent breathing dust.

"Any little thing I can do to help," Smith said of her effort. "It would be nice if people could keep it clean."

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