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By Tom Smith
South Pittsburgh Reporter Editor 

South Side has a new 'Clean Team' on Carson Street

Chamber of Commerce coordinating volunteers keeping Carson St. clean

 

An all-volunteer Clean Team has hit East Carson Street as part of a multifaceted approach to keeping the business district clean. Other aspects include cooperating with other organizations on area-wide clean-ups, repainting crosswalks and replanting missing trees.

When the South Side Local Development Company ceased business operations at the end of June in 2012, one of its most visible programs also disappeared, the SSLDC Clean Team.

Duties of the two members of the team had shifted several months earlier when the SSLDC decided to focus cleaning efforts onto residential streets instead of East Carson Street for the final days.

“They had those two guys cleaning seven days a week,” Kim Collins, president of the South Side Chamber of Commerce (SSCC), said. “Business owners were depending on it.”

Since then, she said the trash on the street had become overwhelming and called cigarette butts a major problem.

To help fight litter in the community, Ms. Collins said the Chamber of Commerce is working on developing a consistent strategy.

The multifaceted approach to fighting litter includes placing 10 cigarette butt receptacles between 14th and 16th streets. Business owners are also being encouraged to install receptacles on their buildings for smokers to use.

The Chamber has also created its own Clean Team of sorts, sweeping up litter on the sidewalks and beside the curbs from 10th to 23rd streets. The new Clean Team is made up of volunteers from area colleges and universities along with South Side residents.

Teams of one or two people, easily identifiable by their red t-shirts, work about five hours a day beginning at 11 a.m. and are out sweeping the sidewalks as many as six days a week. Most of the students come from Duquesne University, but other schools are represented in the volunteer pool.

She emphasized the street cleaning program is meant to supplement the individual efforts of businesses up and down East Carson Street.

Ms. Collins noted there are owners that “go up and beyond” in keeping the sidewalk in front of their businesses and surrounding areas clean. Those businesses are now being highlighted on the Chamber’s website, http://www.southsidechamber.com, for their contributions to keeping things clean.

“The litter is definitely getting under control,” she said.

One of the areas that could use more work is with the nighttime businesses that sell take-out food. The patrons of those businesses often leave the remnants of their purchases (wrappers, left-over food, etc.) on the street.

She would like to see more of the late-night businesses send someone out to clean-up after their customers so the businesses opening in the morning aren’t left with the mess.

“Respect our neighbors and respect our neighborhood,” she said. “Step up and be responsible in the community.”

To that end, the Chamber recently sent out “litter letters” to several businesses making sure they knew they were a major part of the solution to the litter problem in South Side.

Ms. Collins pointed out the Chamber is coordinating with other South Side organizations for a more consistent cleaning program.

Upcoming major clean-up efforts include:

On August 23 there will be a community clean-up in cooperation with the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association and close to 500 Carnegie Mellon University students;

On August 24 nearly 500 Duquesne University students will be in the neighborhood for their annual clean-up; and,

On September 7 a Keep Our Pups Safe glass clean-up is scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to noon.

Ms. Collins said Chamber representatives recently met with officials from the city’s Department of Public Works and the city forester about some of the empty tree pits in South Side. A few of the newer tree pits will be planted with new trees. The older pits are too small to accommodate trees and will be filled with concrete to prevent them from accumulating debris.

The Chamber is also working with the city to have the crosswalks and yellow lines repainted and to get more bike racks in the neighborhood.

“We want everything to be super clean and tidy,” she said.

Utilizing funds from a small grant from the South Side Local Development Company, the Chamber will soon begin power-washing sidewalks along East Carson Street between 10th to 23rd streets. Ms. Collins said the Chamber will be able to hire a company to do the work, but will have to arrange with multiple businesses along the street to use their water connections to facilitate the cleaning.

South Side businesses or residents who would like to get involved with any of the South Side Chamber of Commerce’s programs should contact Kelly Thomas, chamber manager, at 412-431-3360 or info@southsidechamber.org. Visitors are also welcome at the SSCC Visitor’s Center at 1100 East Carson Street.

 

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