Oct. 14—ALBANY — As lawn mowers zipped through the park at Second Avenue and Eugemar Drive in downtown Albany Thursday, buzzing tree trimmers took down overhanging limbs along Second Avenue and Eager Drive, and other city of Albany personnel policed areas in the surrounding neighborhood, Ward III Albany City Commissioner B.J. Fletcher looked on with pride at all that was going on around her.
Taking stock of the work that is part of the city's Clean Sweep project that is conducted in alternating wards on specified Thursdays, Fletcher offered a remark that should have been obvious to anyone paying attention: "It takes a lot of people and a lot of work to make this happen."
Indeed, personnel from Albany's Public Works, Facilities Management and Utilities departments took part in the ongoing sprucing-up project that has been a big hit in the community and, officials say, has made a noticeable dent in the litter problem that plagues the city.
"I think Clean Sweep has made a huge difference," city Public Works Director Stacey Rowe said. "Some of the areas where we've already gone into, you go back into them and you see great improvement. The amount of yard debris and tires in those neighborhoods has been cut significantly.
"Things like this project and putting seven roll-off (Dumpsters) in areas throughout the city, I think, are paying off. Have we stopped litter in the city? No, of course not. But we've slowed it down. And that's a positive not just for Public Works, but for all the city employees who take part in the project."
Fletcher said doing cleanup work in neighborhoods like the one just off Slappey Drive that was the target of Thursday's efforts offers a glimpse into what the city could be like if more people took pride in their properties.
"You drive around this area — on Eugemar, Eager, Second, Third — and you see a neighborhood where people take pride in their properties," Fletcher said. "I walked this neighborhood earlier in the week helping citizens collect signatures for a petition to bring speed bumps to this neighborhood, and I saw some of the neatest, best-cared-for properties in Albany. Yet these citizens are endangered by speeders who cut through (the Avenues) off the main roads.
"This area has a problem with flooding during heavy rain events, and I plan to look into the possibility of getting a holding pond in the area to retain the water. What I've discovered in taking part in the Clean Sweep program is that we have some really hidden jewels in our community. This one is one of our best-kept secrets."