Over time, if city streets are not swept, dirt, debris, leaves, and litter can all build up. Not only are the piles they end up in unappealing aesthetically, but they are bad for the environment and make cities feel far less clean and comfortable. While every city has its own regulations about sweeping, Baltimore is in the process of expanding its services to promote a cleaner, greener city.
At the end of March, officials announced that a new sweeping program would bring the service to 90% of Baltimore. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Department of Public Works Director Rudy Chow announced that the new program would begin on April 2.
Before the new plan was rolled out, the Bureau of Solid Waste Management swept around 30% of city streets. For the most part, that was limited to commercial areas that had heavy pedestrian traffic but the new program is bringing the service to residential neighborhoods for the first time.
“We are seeing more and more demand to assist local governments with their street sweeping efforts,” explains Steve Dekelbaum, Owner of Quiet Sweep. “We welcome the opportunity to help keep streets clean and safe.”
Eric Costello, 33, president of the Federal Hill Neighborhood Association expressed that residents of that area are excited because excessive trash is a “systemic problem.” However, he and other community members are not without concerns.
The main concern is that residents are concerned about where they will be able to park when the sweeping takes place. If cars line the curbs, sweeping trucks will not be able to do their jobs.
“We are doing everything we can to say this is coming, why this is coming, and that we want to work with [residents] to make sure we get it right,” said Rawlings-Blake.
Currently, there is no plan to ticket cars that are not moved when the sweepers come through, but signs to let them know when to have also not been installed.
“The city should be responsible for putting signage up, but if they’re not going to and they’re going to provide an amenity that we don’t already have, a service that we don’t already have, I think the community should do whatever it can” to raise awareness, Costello said. “I think that’s a no-brainer.”
Whether or not residents of Baltimore will be happy with the new plan or not remains to be seen. However, most everyone can agree that keeping the city clean should be a priority.
“This is about making sure that we look for ways, innovative ways, to keep our waterways clean and our city streets clean,” Rawlings-Blake said, “and everything we can do toward that effort makes us better.”
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