After months of seeing garbage accumulate on Flagstaff streets and making little progress when asking public agencies to take care of the problem, Hugh Pressman decided to try tackling the issue himself.
On Saturday morning, Pressman and City Councilwoman Celia Barotz gathered a group of nearly 45 people to pick up trash in designated locations around the city.
The city of Flagstaff donated garbage bags and lent neon vests and garbage pickers to the volunteers, who were assigned to areas in the city with the most significant trash problems. The areas included the Rio de Flag, two vacant lots on Route 66 and Fourth Street, along Milton Road and Butler Avenue near the Interstate 40 ramp.
Volunteers were treated to doughnuts before the cleanup and Fratelli Pizza donated lunch for the group after the cleanup.
Rebecca and Nick Maslar brought their daughter, Adalynn, and son, Qunicy, to volunteer at the cleanup to teach them about being responsible community members. Before arriving, Rebecca said she and Nick talked to the kids about helping in their community and keeping the city clean.
“We’ve been in Flagstaff a long time,” Rebecca said. “It’s that season where we want to teach the kids to give back to the community and help keep this place beautiful.”
Gary Schepper brought his grandchildren to come clean up around downtown Flagstaff.
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“It’s a chance to do some community service and teach them about giving back to the community,” Schepper said.
Schepper said he and his family often clean up trash along Humphreys Street, near where some of his family members own a business.
Barotz said the cleanup organization took a lot of coordination to get the borrowed supplies and spread the word that people had the opportunity to help pick up trash around the city.
The city has been relying heavily on volunteers to clean up garbage on both private and public property, Barotz said, but the problem has gotten too big to depend on only volunteer labor.
“We are at a point where there is so much trash, it detracts from the city,” Barotz said. “People live here and are getting tired of seeing trash everywhere.”
“It doesn’t matter who is leaving the trash,” she said. “For a town that relies heavily on tourism, we need to make sure it looks nice.”
It is time for the city to dedicate time and money to keeping public spaces along roads and in parks clean, Barotz said. She plans to ask the city council to allocate $30,000 a year to paying employees to clean up litter and address the issues with discarded trash.
The city has a beautification budget, she said, which could be used to beautify the public space by removing unsightly garbage.
“For a city of our size we need a more robust city program to keep up,” she said.
The reporter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 556-2249.
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