People are taking notice of the goings on along East Carson Street the last few months. There's a new team whose job it is to clean up the neighborhood, and they're making a difference.
Since the beginning of March, Ron Goings and Adam Halula have been making the rounds along East Carson Street, from "bridge to bridge" picking up and sweeping up litter. The South Side Local Development Company administers the program which is funded by a $30,000 dollar for dollar matching grant from the Urban Redevelopment Authority.
Mr. Goings works 40 hours a week, Monday through Friday, and Mr. Halula works part time, 20 to 25 hours each week generally on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and every Saturday. Geof Comings, manager of Business Development for the SSLDC, said there was a need for the clean up on Saturday mornings after Friday night in the business district and for both men to work on Monday after the weekend.
"I average about 10 ‘thank yous' a day," Mr. Goings said. He noted that it's about a 60/40 split between businesses and residents telling him how much they appreciate the job he is doing.
He's also noticed that since he began working in March more businesses are getting out and cleaning up around their stores each day.
Still, it doesn't make a difference to some. Mr. Goings said some people will see him coming and still drop their litter to the ground.
"People lean on the garbage cans and throw stuff on the ground," he said.
"I notice that I'm picking up a lot more than I used to," Mr. Comings added. "Now I pick up every single thing I see, especially if I know he's just been there an hour ago."
The men try to make their rounds, from 10th Street to 29th Street and Bedford Square, twice a day. In addition to picking up litter and sweeping up cigarette butts they also remove stickers and flyers from poles and parking meters and are beginning to pull weeds in the sidewalks along the way.
Two months into the job Mr. Goings knows where the worst places for litter are but would only speak in general terms saying that with the higher density of businesses between 10th and 20th streets there seems to be more trash on the streets. He also picks up a lot of cigarette butts outside of Burger King and attributes that to smokers not having ashtrays to dispose of their butts in.
Mr. Goings said that the streets are getting better, "when it's done everyday, it doesn't have a chance to accumulate…We just have to keep on it."
The regular cleaning is also making a cumulative difference on the South Side. Last week at the Fourth Annual South Side Spring Clean Up, 175 volunteers picked up 150 bags of trash and 25 bags of recyclables throughout the neighborhood compared with 200 volunteers picking up 260 bags of trash and 70 bags of recyclables the year before.
Sarah Alessio from the Pennsylvania Resources Council said the volunteers from Duquesne University and the neighborhood were split this year between painting over graffiti and picking up litter. She added that last year they dedicated a crew to cleaning up East Carson Street and didn't feel the need to do it this year because of the work Mr. Goings and Mr. Halula are doing.
"It's nice to walk down Carson Street now," she said. "It makes a nice visual."
The clean up program is funded by sponsorship of hanging flower baskets that will be going up along East Carson Street at the end of May. The SSLDC committed to finding sponsors for 104 of the baskets in order to meet the $30,000 match needed for the URA grant. Currently they have found sponsors for just over 60 of the $300 baskets.
The hanging baskets will be put up and maintained by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy as soon as the last chance of frost has passed, near the end of May. In addition to the baskets, there will also be a plaque identifying the sponsor placed on the pole and donors will be acknowledged on the SSLDC Website and in its publications.
Each basket sponsorship funds approximately 15 hours of sidewalk cleaning on the South Side. To learn more about the clean up program or to sponsor a basket, call Geof Comings at 412-481-0651.