Public Works to reset adopt-a-street program due to lack of participation
By Seth Thomas Gulledge
The Daily Reflector
Saturday, December 16, 2017
The Public Works Department is planning a little street sweeping to reset a program designed to keep local roadways clean.
Kevin Mulligan, director of the department, said the majority of organizations involved in Greenville’s Adopt-A-Street Program are not keeping up with their commitments.
Mulligan gave a presentation on the program to City Council on Thursday night. He said organizations that adopt streets in the city are rewarded with a sign erected with their group’s name, and in exchange are required to participate in a trash clean-up each quarter.
There are 64 groups that have adopted streets in the city, Mulligan said. Of those, only 15 respond to the department regarding their obligations. He recommended that the council remove the signage of organizations that have not maintained their roadways in more than a year.
Adopting a street comes with a three-year commitment. When clean-ups take place, the city provides trash bags, safety vests, and gloves for the groups and picks ups the bagged trash afterwards.
Mulligan said generally roads are adopted in one-mile stretches. The road sign commemorating the organization's commitment is erected immediately.
It may be time to rethink the program’s strategies, Mulligan said. He presented a chart that broke down other North Carolina cities’ requirements for their program.
Some cities require up to four-year commitments and trash pick-ups twice a month, the chart stated. Most, though, had 1-2 year commitments with quarterly or six-time-a-year pick-up requirements.
To encourage organizations to keep their commitments, Mulligan proposed not only removing signs for inactive organizations, but recommended future signs not be installed until an organization has completed two successful clean-ups. He also suggested that the city use its public information office to advertise the program and elicit more organizations to get involved.
Council members expressed concern about the roads leading into Greenville. Mayor P.J. Connelly said that the condition of those roads left a bad impression on people entering the city. He said that he wanted to begin talks with the North Carolina Department of Transportation about possibly taking over control of the roads’ clean-up.
“I mean when you get off of 264, it’s atrocious, it really is, It’s almost embarrassing sometimes with how high the grass is out there,” Connelly said. I love NCDOT because they’re investing a lot into our city, but maintenance standards-wise I don’t think it’s the same thing we do. I understand, they have a tremendous amount of land that they need to cover, so I understand the barriers that they have. But there’s trash that gets chopped up and blown around, and that’s the first impression that people see, I think that’s the most visible issue that we have.”
Mulligan said that his staff did not believe that adopt-a-street programs would be sufficient to address those concerns. Staff is evaluating whether the city should take over maintenance, but that would come with a price tag. He said keeping the stretch of Statonsburg Road, that runs in front of the hospital from the U.S. 264 Overpass clean, would cost $30,00-40,000 annually, for twice-weekly litter collection and right-of-way mowing.
The council was generally in support of Mulligan’s plan to get more people involved in the Adopt-A-Street program. District 3 Councilman Will Bell said that he believes the people in his district, especially student groups, could be easily mobilized. Bell issued a friendly challenge to his fellow council members to see who could get the most organizations to sign up in the next quarter.