Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Clean Key West?

Former Mayor Jimmy Weekley pointed proudly to a program that he created at the end of 1999 called Clean Key West. Like many other programs begun in earnest, the Clean initiative became somewhat perfunctory, holding regular meetings, conducting quarterly volunteer clean-ups, awarding a monthly prize to a residence and one to a business for maintaining a beautiful property. But somehow the City has a certain grittiness, even griminess about it, especially in Old Town. Duval Street is swept everyday by one of the massive street sweepers the City runs, after two men precede it blowing debris and dust from the sidewalks into the gutters. (And why is it that the guys with the blowers wear filter masks but stir up dust for everyone else passing by to breathe?)

The sweeper does a fair job of picking up the heaviest debris, but there's always a trail it leaves behind, things that don't get swept, and there's often a stream of dirty water in the gutters until the sun dries it up. Parking on Duval Street is pretty limited but not barred completely. When the sweeper comes upon a car or, more often, a truck it goes around, leaving whatever is under the vehicle on the street.

The sweepers traverse several other streets in the downtown area, but they're even worse than Duval St. to clean because there are always vehicles parked on both sides. Outside of the downtown area, there is little or no effort made to clean the streets. Some residents make an effort to pick up trash around their homes and to sweep dirt and sand from the gutters.

Trash cans, big, ugly, green containers in the neighborhoods are frequently left on the street permanently, despite an ordinance requiring their removal immediately after pickup. The trash containers in the downtown are now in very bad condition, with tops missing, very dirty. The dispensers for plastic bags that are supposed to be used to clean up after pets have been empty since before the early hurricanes.

Duval Street and its sidewalks are filthy with the embedded grime of thousands of feet, and spilled food and drinks. A few businesses sweep and wash their own street fronts, but they are in the great minority. We used to have a guy come by once a month and pressure wash the steps and sidewalk of the business we operated on Duval St. It made it better, but it never came clean and soon became dirty again.

Three weeks ago, as I noted, we were due to have the corner of our street paved. It was dug up 7 months previously, and there was dirt and sand everywhere, which of course got stirred up every time a vehicle passed by and our cars were quickly covered with layers of it. When the signs went up for the December 14th - 23rd construction -- which as I said didn't happen -- I decided I'd wait to have the car washed until after the work was finished. I feel that I may have to go through the car wash twice when I finally bring the car there.

Another aspect of the lack of cleanliness is the attitudes of some people that the way to dispose of trash is to drop it out the car window, or to fling it in the general direction of a Dumpster. I've been taking pictures of a particular dumpster outside the Housing Authority apartments at the corner of Whitehead and Olivia Street, across from the Hemingway House, for several months now. It has never been what I would consider clean around that spot, and sometimes the trash overflows out on the surrounding sidewalk. Waste Management, the City's trash collection contractor usually leaves a goodly amount of the spilled-over and spilled out trash when they empty the dumpster, and the Housing Authority comes by clean up (with jail inmates) about once every other week.

I'm going to post some of my Clean Key West photos at our Flickr Photo site.

A friend of mine, Captain Bill, recently wrote to our District Commissioner about some properties on and near Petronia Street that have been long-neglected and outside of which trash and debris lie for what seems to be forever. Here's what Bill had to say:

Hello Clayton;
Seasons greetings to you and your family.

I recently purchased [...] property [on] Terry Lane and am in the process of fixing it up to make it livable.  I will be keeping my apartment [on Emma Street] as well.  Every time I walk from Emma Street to Terry Lane, I pass by Chapman Lane and Baptist Lane--and this is why I am writing.

Please see the attached pages from the County Property Appraiser.  These properties have been a dilapidated, trash-filled, junkyard-slum (with plenty of the attendant drug-related activity), as long as I have lived in this neighborhood--about 7 years.  The statutes are clear, and I can not believe that this [...] person has so much "stroke" at city hall as to be above the laws.  If that is indeed the case, it should be referred to our Mayor for investigation.  I believe Morgan does care [for] Key West.

I don't want this to get too long--I know you are busy.  Let's vow to take affirmative action on this matter in January.  I am attaching the information on these properties.  The ownership is clearly shown.  I look [forward] to working with you to "fix" this problem--if I can be of any assistance.

Key West will never be as clean as, say, Monaco. When we were there in 1997, they had workers assigned to patrol the city parks, waiting to pounce on any leaf that would dare fall from a tree, or any random bit of trash dropped by a passer-by, or blown in by an errant breeze. But Key West and Key Westers could do better than they do now.

I for one hope that the new Commission will make note of what I've said, and will come around and see what I see. Cleanliness begins with individuals. And its next to godliness, I hear.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree! In addition, the stairwells and hallways at
OCEANWALK APARTMENTS on S. Roosevelt are so filthy it turns my stomache to walk up or down the stairs. Most residents at OCEANWALK let their dogs poop all over the property...nobody cleans it up.

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