JP Observer: Keeping business district clean requires group effort

Trash in public spaces has, no doubt, been an issue since cave-dwellers met in clearings to exchange goods and news. The issue of litter still exists in every business area in the world today.

Discussion about what to do about dirt and litter can easily deteriorate to finger-pointing. After all, every member of the public, nearby property owners and businesses, and local government all play important roles in keeping business districts clean. Looking for scapegoats is tempting, but finding them easily usually means the litter problem won’t improve.

The Jamaica Plain Business and Professional Association (JP BAPA), to its credit, is looking squarely to itself to tackle the problem this spring. I am a member of the board, but am not directly involved in devising or carrying out its new JP Shines program.

President Brad Brown, owner of Blue Frog Bakery, addressed fellow business owners/managers in a letter last month, saying, “As a fellow shop owner…I am distressed by the increase of litter on the business district streets.” Calling the appearance “unattractive,” he wrote that it “gives the impression that we do not care about the community of Jamaica Plain. We know that is not true. We love Jamaica Plain.”

JP BAPA, in cooperation with JP Centre/South Main Streets, the Jamaica Pond Association and the Jamaica Hills Association, is asking local businesses to pledge to clean the sidewalks and gutters in front of their buildings at least once a day. JP BAPA is providing free brooms and dustpans and a nice window decal to everyone who agrees. It is important to note that a city ordinance requires business owners to do that cleaning.

So, what about the rest of the responsible parties? It’s time for them to step up to the trash receptacles. Residents who use them instead of the ground deserve a thanks, and a huge thanks goes to those folks who pick up other people’s trash from the sidewalks and gutters and throw it away.

The City of Boston plays a major role—not just through the successful Boston Shines volunteer cleanup day every spring—but because many trash eradication services must be performed regularly by a larger entity.

As recent Gazette articles and opinion pieces have indicated, the number of trash receptacles and their distribution, size and type are not ideal on Centre and South Streets. Expensive BigBellies, which compact the trash using solar power, have been too slow to arrive.

Even when there is not a single piece of litter on the sidewalks in JP Center, they still look dirty. Those black circles stuck all over are not polka dots. They are blobs of discarded, chewed gum that must be power-washed or freeze-treated to be removed.

The City employs “hokeys” (workers on foot with brooms, dustpans and trash bags) to help sweep business areas in the warm months. It would show support for everyone’s cleanup efforts if the City would pledge a minimum number of hokey half-days in JP Center between now and Nov. 1.

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