February 26, 2008 |

Litter is worse in city than in Third World according to traveler

The litter problem in Pittsburgh is worse than in some Third World countries Mount Washington resident Sue Thompson visited.

She made that comment at a Mount Washington Community Development Corporation meeting Feb. 21 as the guest speaker Mary W. Wilson, executive director, Allegheny CleanWays, encouraged the group to organize clean-ups.

The largest source of illegal litter is the billions of cigarette butts tossed away, Ms. Wilson said.

"Littering is engrained in the Pittsburgh culture," Ms. Thompson commented during the discussion at the monthly MWCDC forum meeting.

"The focus of my comments is how to engage people in a clean-up," Ms. Wilson said.

She said the clean-up leaders should choose the right words to motivate residents to participate. She urged MWCDC to remind the residents or "stakeholders" that litter lowers their property values and the problem also affects the health of family members.

"Consistent litter depreciates the value of property by 10 per cent," she said. "If you're retiring and want to sell your property, it's a significant issue."

She also advised the group "to make the clean-up fun. And encourage the equitable distribution of responsibilities."

 Ms. Wilson gave the group a lot of other pointers, such as: Assess the site before the clean-up to see how much trash there is and what equipment is needed; Contact the Department of Public Works to arrange debris pick-up and follow up with a "thank-you;" Create a safety plan and review safety precautions on the clean-up day; and leave a phone message on what to do if there is rain.

She said the mission statement of her organization is "to empower people to fight illegal dumping and litter in Allegheny County."

In other business, MWCDC member Georgia Blotzer reported on a small victory for the McArdle Roadway Task Force

which wants to replace fencing, a barrier, sidewalks and lighting along that stretch of road.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl agreed to recommend the application for federal transportation money, among other applications he is recommending to federal legislators. The task force is requesting $2,200,000, which is about 85 percent of the cost of the project. She stressed that "everyone on the committee worked very, very, very hard."

"What happens next? The three legislators choose from all the applications they receive. They send the chosen few to compete with all the applications submitted nationwide. We should have some idea if we made the cut by summer."

Duquesne University psychology professor Eva Simms brought nine students from her class to observe the meeting. She said the students were formerly involved in a survey about Mount Washington parks and that they eventually want to organize the community to start improvements to Mount Washington Park, formerly known as Dillworth Park.

Board president Frank Valenta said the MWCDC "is on sound financial footing," thanks to help from Bookminder's, a local accounting firm. In reply to a question he said the cost of the firm's help was $10,000.

There were 29 applicants for the executive director job and MWCDC is close to hiring someone for the job, Mr. Valenta said.

He also said MWCDC was grateful for help from city officials in removing trees obstructing the view along Grandview Avenue.

"I remember the first time I walked into town 50 years ago," Mr. Valenta said. "Everyone said, ‘Wait until you see the view.'"

Neil Parham, youth policy manager for the mayor's office, attended the meeting as an observer.

Reader Comments

(0)