By Joseph A. Curtatone
(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries of The Somerville News belong solely to the authors of those commentaries and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville News, its staff or publishers.)
With winter and snow seemingly behind us at last (if you’re superstitious, go ahead and knock on wood) we turn our attention to the spring and all that it entails: warmer weather; the reintroduction of Hubway stations throughout the city; green grass and flowering plants; and of course, the return of our ever-expanding annual events, beginning with the Citywide Spring Cleanup on Saturday, April 27. All over the city, residents are going to be raking up debris, rooting out weeds, disposing of waste, and preparing our open spaces for the arrival of spring, all in the spirit of civic pride.
The Spring Cleanup marks the beginning of our 2013 events series, engaging residents and business owners in community-building, beautification efforts, and fun, but it also marks the beginning of our overall efforts to make Somerville clean, safe, and beautiful year-round.
We can each do our part, by keeping trash off our streets and keeping our yards clean; remember to place garbage in tight-fitting containers, trim shrubs to keep sidewalks passable, and clean your flower and vegetable gardens often to keep your yard and our city looking nice and unwanted rodents at bay. For our part, Inspectional Services and Public Works employees work diligently every day in the city’s parks and squares and on public streets to do just that. By now, I am sure you have seen some of our crews planting flowers, conducting street sweeping or checking on trash and recycling violations for the benefit of neighbors in these areas. These actions, while small, are what combine to make our city shine throughout the warmer months, and help to keep unwanted pests, like rodents, at bay.
Beautifying the city does more than just make our public parks and recreation areas nicer to play in, and it is why we have instituted a number of policies to help ensure our city remains clean and safe. In 2007, we revised our trash storage guidelines, requiring that all trash be kept in sealed barrels to prevent rodent activity, and in 2011, we introduced Zero-Sort Recycling citywide, and our recycling rates have increased as a result, furthering our goal of decreasing our carbon footprint and creating a healthier community.
To that end, however, we are also taking a closer look at our policies and actions surrounding rodent control, especially following a targeted pilot program we conducted in a small area of the city last fall. We learned, or rather, reinforced, that the key problem is trash. This is why it is important to use tight-fitting lids on your garbage containers and why our inspectors are diligent about ticketing property owner who improperly store their garbage. Not following the city’s guidelines only invites rodent into your yard and neighborhood. We understand it is a constant and evolving issues, and will continue to work to eradicate the issue, but we have to work together to first eradicate the problem. Help us help you by keeping our community clean.
Keeping our city clean is not just beneficial to our beautification efforts. This year, one of the goals of my administration is to continue further our notoriety as one of the nation’s best communities for walking and biking, ultimately hoping to be named the most walkable and bikeable community in America. Part of that progress relies on our commitment to maintaining a clean and healthy community. Just as it is important to clean public ways following snow storms, it is also important to take pride in our city by ensuring our sidewalks and streets remain free from litter, and safe for residents of all ages to walk, bike, and generally enjoy our public spaces.
Beyond that, it is also a valuable lesson to our young residents that each and every one of us is responsible for the space we live in. Vigilance in small things, like sanitation and cleanliness helps foster pride in our fair municipality, and the privilege of living in a place where people care about our community. It is these small actions that remind us, that we have a stake in this city. Whether you have lived here all your life or are newly arrived here, this is an opportunity to give back to the community. And that’s part of what makes Somerville great.
So, I’ll be out there on the 27th and I hope you will join me. With a little determination and some elbow grease, we can make this city ready for it’s most vibrant Spring yet. And most importantly, we will do it together, because that is the Somerville way.