Greenwood’s Earth Day cleanup was successful for the city in several ways.
I covered the citywide cleanup effort, organized by the Rev. Giulianna Gray. Like her, I was surprised by the turnout of volunteers willingly spending their Monday afternoon picking up litter.
Not only that, the volunteers were enthusiastic and encompassed several swaths of the community. Students, civic club members and even Mayor Carolyn McAdams, among others, pitched in to help.
It was great to see such an enthusiastic, large turnout for a rather mundane task to beautify the city overall. I’m glad that I got to help a bit myself while taking pictures of volunteers.
That being said, the impact made by the Earth Day volunteers on the appearance of this city is modest.
That’s no criticism of the volunteers. It’s just that where they focused their efforts — parks, major streets and other public areas of the city — is not where the debris problem is the worst. It’s in residential neighborhoods.
During my ride-alongs Tuesday and Wednesday with Betty Stigler and William Blake, the city’s code enforcement officers, I saw not just litter throughout the city but piles of building debris and car tires carelessly dumped.
On many yards, people parked both working and junked cars. Some of the latter appeared to have been on the same spot for months.
Not only is the refuse unsightly, but it’s also illegal, violating the city’s municipal code.
The mayor, the code enforcement officers and the residents are fed up.
Citing that she’s received more complaints from residents than usual, McAdams has said the city will start cracking down on code violators — preventing people from dumping tires, parking cars in lawns, etc. — by handing out notices of violation. If residents don’t clean things up, they could be summoned to court, where it’s possible to get a fine or jail time.
Apparently the city’s been lenient in the past.
The city has also been adding cameras throughout town to try to catch violators.
Whatever concern there is for privacy, city officials are pleased the cameras have been working, as they’ve caught several people in the act of littering.
Greenwood’s litter problem throughout town seems to stem from a lack of awareness.
Given the city’s increasing reliance on cameras, as well as the mayor’s plans to increase violation notices and fines, if McAdams follows through, residents are bound to know the law soon.
Tony Garrett, one Earth Day volunteer, told me that he hopes the biggest takeaway from the event is awareness to actively take care of the environment, going on to say a greener Greenwood could lead to more businesses opening up.
It is nice to envision a future where Greenwood streets and yards aren’t littered with garbage and junked cars and other materials that don’t belong anywhere but a garbage can.
That vision can be achieved as long as residents comply and actively throw away trash properly.
Earth Day has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop preaching its message.
• Contact Gerard Edic at 581-7239 or firstname.lastname@example.org.