Cleaning up York's trash, one neighborhood sweep at a time

Written by Mark Walters, York Daily Record | Apr 9, 2015 11:28 AM

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Photo by Paul Kuehnel, York Daily Record/Sunday News

Bruce Buchanan, left, and Mel Boanes lift a sofa unit into a front loader during a Clean Sweep on Wednesday in York's Salem Square neighborhood. Wednesday's was the first of a dozen scheduled sweeps in the city this year.

(York) -- Unwanted furniture and piles of wet cardboard were crunched into a dump truck and hauled off to an incinerator Wednesday morning in York's Salem Square neighborhood as part of the city's first Clean Sweep of the year.

The large item cleanup in alleys behind Salem Avenue and West Princess Street is one of a dozen scheduled sweeps this year, said Steve Buffington, deputy director for the city's permits, planning and zoning departments.

The city wants to help clear areas of unsightly garbage and property maintenance violations in the city, Buffington said, but the city cannot do it alone. York needs its citizens to take care of their neighborhoods, he said.

'This is pretty bad'

A lot of the trash collected during a Clean Sweep should not have been put out, Buffington said.

Standing in the 600 block of West Hope Avenue, he did not even try to sugarcoat it. "It looks terrible," he said.

You can't teach people what they should have learned growing up, Buffington told Ken Strayer outside Strayer's house in the 600 block of Salem Avenue.

Strayer has lived there for 19 years with his wife, and he said he has gotten fed up with garbage in his neighborhood that blows from the north side of Salem Avenue to the south side, where he lives.

The problem is mostly from renters who don't care about properties they don't own, Strayer said.

"I don't know what government can do about this," Buffington told him, examining the litter strewn about the curbside. "This is pretty bad."

Solving the problem? 

The police department, neighborhood enforcement units and property maintenance inspectors discuss problem areas of the city to suggest where Clean Sweeps should take place, Buffington said. Sometimes they are done by request of neighborhoods, he said.

Neighborhood sweeps don't necessarily solve property maintenance violations, Buffington said, but they get rid of items immediately and make the neighborhood look better.

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Photo by Paul Kuehnel, York Daily Record/Sunday News

Resident Ken Strayer, left, talks with Steve Buffington, director of permits planning and zoning for York, about the garbage issue in the 600 block of Salem Avenue during a Clean Sweep on Wednesday. Strayer has been living in the Salem Square neighborhood for 19 years and he has grown tired of the garbage accumulating in the streets near his house.

"We hope that sticks and folks don't continue to litter and leave trash out or large items out when they're not supposed to," Buffington said.

The city gets a pretty good response out of issuing orders such as the ones generated on Wednesday, Buffington said.

The sweeps' effects vary among the city's neighborhoods. In some, the city's beautification efforts stick, Buffington said, but others are revisited on a regular basis.

By the numbers

64: Violations issued Wednesday morning by city officials

2,000: Roughly the number of property maintenance violations last year

$100: The minimum fine for violations

$1,000: The maximum fine for violations

Source: Steve Buffington, deputy director of York's permits, planning and zoning

Contact Mark Walters at 717-771-2032.

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Photo by Paul Kuehnel, York Daily Record/Sunday News

Litter piled in the rear of a vacant property on West College Avenue is seen during a Clean Sweep on Wednesday in York's Salem Square neighborhood. The city issued 64 property maintenance warnings during the sweep, said Steve Buffington, director of permits planning and zoning for York city. "We'd rather see folks comply and not get hit with a significant fine for something that's very easy to take care of," he said.

This article comes to us through a partnership between the York Daily Record and WITF. 

Published in News, York

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