Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki said today that a clean City, one in which its main travel thoroughfares as well as its neighborhoods are free of trash and debris, is a City that cares about its image and its future. With that thought in mind, the Mayor today announced Wilmington’s new Beautiful City Initiative (BCI), which is a consistent, sustained effort by City government and the community to clean the City.
Mayor Purzycki said the City government will lead the way on this new mission by instituting, with the support and leadership of the employees of the Public Works Department, a beautification program that has not been attempted before in Wilmington. Purzycki said it’s important to create an aesthetically attractive City for citizens and visitors alike. The Mayor said a clean City means we respect our City. Mayor Purzycki offered his thanks today to AFSCME Local 320, the union to which most of the City Public Works employees belong, for their support of the Beautiful City Initiative.
“We are rolling out the Beautiful City Initiative in phases beginning now, and we’ll do more next spring after the weather warms,” said Mayor Purzycki. “Once we get into the groove of the government and community working together to keep Wilmington clean, I know this effort will become part of the norm as opposed to being something special. We all need to take pride in our homes, our blocks and our neighborhoods, because everyone appreciates a beautiful City.”
The elements of the Beautiful City Initiative include:
Cleaning the City’s highly visible areas and well-traveled corridors or gateways. On many mornings, Public Works street cleaning staff are cleaning—by hand and machine—the City’s gateways in the early morning hours prior to the morning rush hour. The gateways that are being cleaned before sunrise are Lancaster Avenue, 4th Street, Maryland Avenue, Northeast Boulevard, Church Street, Vandever Avenue, Pennsylvania Avenue, Concord Avenue and MLK Boulevard.
Deploying more hand cleaning crews on neighborhood streets as well as using the city’s water flusher trucks more often. Clean street crews are paying greater attention to areas needing work such as sidewalks, grass, trees and utilities.
Distributing new and free trash bins to approximately 19,500 residential properties throughout the City next spring and requiring that citizens use the new bins instead of placing trash in bags on the sidewalk. The Mayor said the new trash bins, which will be the same size as the City’s recycle bins, can be lifted and emptied mechanically into a trash truck as the recycle bins currently are, improving worker safety for City employees and adding greater efficiency to the collection process.
Offering an education program to help citizens understand the proper disposal methods for trash and recycling. The education effort will also help citizens control the amount of trash they throw away versus the amount of material they recycle. Mayor Purzycki said we have to do a better job of recycling than we do today because it’s less costly and is better for the environment. Wilmington’s current curbside recycling rate is approximately 20% and the Mayor said he wants to raise it to at least 30%.
Improved landscaping design and maintenance for public areas such as MLK Boulevard, Northeast Boulevard at 12th Street, 11th Street between Spruce and Church Streets, Concord Avenue and Broom Street, South Market from A Street to Howard Street, D Street at Heald Street and the Delaware Avenue Streetscape.
Improving the process for removing dead or injured trees from public rights of way and in parks.
Replacing missing or worn street signage through a citywide visual inventory.
Repainting crosswalks and stop bars, as well as repainting fire hydrants.
Reviving Wilmington’s Adopt-A-Block program, which asks neighborhoods, businesses, organizations and individuals to adopt an area and then agree to clean debris from a block or series of blocks at least every month, weather permitting.
Reform the City’s current street sweeping program by exploring the idea of deploying street cleaning trucks in neighborhoods that are in regular need of cleaning versus cleaning only those areas where citizens have requested street cleaning, which is the City’s current practice. Purzycki said it makes more sense for Public Works to use its judgement to clean streets that need more frequent cleaning.
Reform the City’s current practice of providing three, free special trash pick-ups to residential properties annually and then charging just $25 for subsequent pick-ups. Mayor Purzycki said the current system is being abused by irresponsible property owners or tenants who dump large volumes of materials on a City street. Wilmington averages around 9,000 special pick-ups a year, which drains the Public Works budget and pulls the City’s street cleaning crews away from their mission of keeping streets clean. Instead, The Mayor said he will announce a special pick-up reform plan in the near future so Public Works can concentrate on cleaning the City more efficiently.
The Mayor said the City will also continue to crack down on those who illegally dump materials on City streets and open areas by working closely with the Wilmington Police Department to identify and arrest perpetrators.
Mayor Purzycki and Acting Public Works Commissioner Williams said the new Beautiful City Initiative is being implemented within current budget constraints through improved management of people and resources, more strategic deployment of staff, increased communication, sharing of equipment among divisions, the use of overtime assignments for existing employees and the hiring a limited number of temporary employees.