Let's clean up Austin ... and keep it clean

We need a campaign to clean up Austin and keep it clean, because this is our home

Opinion

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By Arlene Jones

Columnist

I was driving on my street the other day when a young man pushing a stroller ended up at the stop sign with me at the same time. While pushing the baby, the young man had been sipping out of a can of beer. After gulping down the last of the beer, he promptly dropped the can on the ground. I immediately spoke up and told the young man that we didn't litter on this block. His response was that he lived on the block, too. As I didn't recognize him as living on my block, I asked which house he lived in. He pointed to the next block and said he lived in the first house. I quickly informed him that was a different block and he did bend down and pick up the can. I thanked him and continued on.

The following day, I happened to see a Facebook post from state Representative LaShawn Ford, 8th District. He was streaming live a video about the route that our young people have to take to get to the three schools housed in the old Austin High School building. As he drove along recording the route, the filth that lined the street was disgusting. Worse was that there were at least 4-5 nice SUVs that had to cost well over $20,000 each parked on the street in all of that filth. The papers and other garbage are, in my humble opinion, the results of one single factor: trifling people who leave a trail of garbage in their wake. They are like the young man I saw pushing the baby who didn't care about littering.

I see people littering all the time in Austin. I've seen people drive and toss bags of garbage out their car window to the ground. I see people park and empty their garbage onto the street. Every day as I travel to work westbound on North Avenue, I see the guy cleaning the street from Luna to Central. The following morning, the amount of garbage that has re-accumulated is as much as he has cleaned the day before. The absolute worst littering though, is done in the alley where people feel free to put their garbage on the ground even though garbage cans surround them.

Littering is a bad and nasty behavior that far too many have adopted for reasons that are beyond my comprehension.

We need a campaign to clean up Austin and keep it clean. The number one reason is because this is our home. We all live here and I'm sure people don't toss their garbage on the floor in their home.

A clean Austin is a mental health cure. People who are walking and see a clean area can feel good about living here as opposed to feeling like they are living in the city dump. There are several daycare centers along North Avenue and the young children can see how beautiful this community is when it is kept clean and neat.

We could also encourage businesses along the major streets to join in the effort to help keep Austin clean. Would it be that difficult to have their employees remind the customers to keep our neighborhood clean. The same for the stores that sell items that are still being placed into plastic bags.

To clean, and keep clean, the Austin community is simply a matter of effort. Who is willing to join in?

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Judith Alexander from Oak Park  

Posted: July 31st, 2016 9:19 PM

Bravo, Arlene and Terry! The North Ave. Zoning and Development Advancement Committee (NAZDAC) is seeking to establish an SSA (Special Service Area) or equivalent on both sides of North Ave. between Austin and Harlem. SSAs or the equivalent are funded by a small real estate or sales tax surcharge. If we are successful, Job #1 will be trash collection, landscaping and maintenance. Downtown Oak Park also is supported by an SSA. Think how good it looks and you'll understand what we want to accomplish. If we want to attract desirable businesses and housing to the North Ave. District, we know it has to look clean and well cared-for.

Terry Redmond  

Posted: July 29th, 2016 5:36 PM

As a resident in the south Austin community, I too feel the pain of littering. And as a member of South Austin Neighborhood Association, SANA our Board with the Beautification committee will present to the Alderman an outline of a campaign called "Pick It Up & Toss Out" that we have been working on for the past few months. We plan to implement it over the winter months. Keep an eye out!

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