Dixon set to launch cleanup campaign

Effort to reorganize sanitation functions, issue multimedia anti-litter message

March 09, 2007|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,sun reporter

Pursuing a key goal of her fledging administration to make Baltimore cleaner, Mayor Sheila Dixon is set to announce today the re- organization of some key municipal sanitation functions and plans for a major multimedia anti-litter campaign.

The mayor will also announce stepped-up efforts to clean city properties such as neighborhood bulk trash disposal stations and major roads leading into and out of the city, aides said yesterday.

M. Celeste Amato, who is coming over from the Baltimore Development Corp. to coordinate the initiatives, said the public education campaign to be undertaken in partnership with the nonprofit Baltimore Community Foundation will be as important as the administrative actions the city is taking.

"Hopefully, behaviors will change that will make the city cleaner," she said. "At the same time, we're looking at how we can operate more efficiently. One will not work without the other."

The city will chip in an as-yet unspecified amount of money for the campaign, which is likely to include traditional advertising and an enhanced Web site providing information on topics such as trash removal, aides said. And the foundation expects to raise up to $2 million for the effort, according to Michael Hankin, president and chief executive officer of Brown Advisory investment company, who has agreed to head the fundraising effort.

"It's not a campaign that says, `Clean up,'" said Hankin. "It's a campaign that says, `Let's not litter.'"

Administratively, the city is moving the 16-member sanitation enforcement staff for the Department of Public Works to the code enforcement division of the housing department, where it will have greater powers to issue and enforce citations, aides said.

At the same time, the housing department's 35-member boarding and cleaning crew, which was responsible for trash and debris dumped on private lots, will be transferred to public works, which is responsible for city property, streets and alleys.

Consolidating the cleanup functions into one department should eliminate confusion over which agency is responsible for what and speed the process of clearing trash and debris, said Deputy Mayor Andrew Frank.

"If there's trash, they'll pick it up," Frank said.

The city will improve the appearance of properties, such as the Northwest Sanitation Yard on Sisson Street in Remington, by cleaning the perimeter of the yard and replacing the chain link with more attractive fencing, he said. The city will also explore new strategies for dealing with alleys where illegal dumping occurs, such as closing off the by-ways, Frank said.

In addition to Amato, Dixon will announce two other appointments to aid in her cleanup campaign.

Valentina Ukwuoma will succeed the recently retired head of the Bureau of Solid Waste, and Tonya Simmons is the new recycling coordinator, a position that has been unfilled for the past two years, aides said.

eric.siegel@baltsun.com

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