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Clean City Danbury Day Enhances Quality of Life

May 23, 2005


Danbury (CT) Mayor Mark Boughton launched a community preservation, blight and litter control program called Clean City in Danbury in 2004. His goal was to build a stronger community by preserving and expanding a higher quality of life for Danbury's residents. Boughton introduced new community service projects to eliminate a growing blight problem, and brought together local citizens to maintain the beauty of their neighborhoods. The Clean City plan incorporated an existing Adopt-A'street program, Blight Enforcement program, and neighborhood cleanups.

A focal point for Boughton early in his administration was the identification of areas facing the largest blight and litter problems citywide. Safety, esthetics and illegal dumping in Danbury were evaluated. Time and attention were prioritized to search for solutions. Boughton created the Blight Enforcement program, which ran with the recommendations and suggestions supplied by members of a Blight Task Force established in 2002. The Task Force members came from a variety of city departments and supplied their goals and recommendations to Boughton for review. As a result, an increase in housing inspections, identification of unsafe living conditions, and new zoning enforcement actions triggered the intensification of debris and blight removal.

Blight Enforcement improvements established a new opportunity to work with property owners and residents, which became a vital source of information for these programs. In response, the Mayor's Blight Enforcement Hotline was instituted. Hundreds of calls from concerned citizens were received, contributing to the effectiveness of the program.

The Adopt-A-street program focused on dedicated volunteer services by residents. Individuals, organizations and businesses were presented with the opportunity to pick up litter in their neighborhoods for one year. A consistent date and street was chosen for cleanup by the adopter, and the city of Danbury supplied cleanup materials and scheduled trash pickups by the Highway Department. However, by the spring of 2004, the program's enrollment numbers had weakened. Clean City Danbury Day was organized to revitalize all the existing Blight Enforcement and litter control programs.

In conjunction with April's National Earth Day celebrations, Boughton kicked off the first Clean City Danbury Day April 24, 2004. This was an opportunity to use the power of the community to embark on an endeavor that would bring Danbury citizens together and assist in the preservation of their neighborhoods. The one-day event designated teams with specific areas and streets to cleanup. The event proved successful with over 92 teams made up of volunteers from local churches, schools, businesses and organizations. Another 700 individuals also assisted, and 42 tons of garbage was collected.

On April 9, 2005, the Danbury community chose to unite once again to continue their progress. The commitment of local residents became the driving force behind the tremendous success of the 2005 Clean City Danbury Day. With over 1,300 volunteers, 142 teams and 103 tons of garbage collected, this year's event proved to be a larger accomplishment than the prior year.

Weeks before the event, interested volunteers contacted Boughton's office with their support and willingness to participate. In response, the city of Danbury provided basic cleanup supplies for the volunteers. Danbury streets, school grounds and city parks were filled with teams picking up and dumping twice the amount of litter recorded last year. This year's achievements were a result of local businesses, community service organizations, students and residents who displayed their community pride by taking an active role in this old-fashioned neighborhood cleanup. Participants also enjoyed a Volunteer Appreciation Picnic hosted by the mayor and Western Connecticut State University's President James Schmotter. Full cooperation from Danbury's Parks and Highway Departments added to the event's success, as well as city employees and Danbury Common Council members who also volunteered.

The success of the mayor's Clean City plan has led the way to future community service programs to control blight and litter problems. The Adopt-A'street program has had an increase in adopters and other blight enforcement projects continue to thrive. Boughton recently instituted a Livable Neighborhood Plan into the 2005-2006 budget, which will supply a neighborhood bond dedicated to current program improvements and the creation of a Unified Inspection Team.

In order to further unify the community and increase the success of the annual Clean City Danbury Day event, Boughton will combine 2006 National Youth Services Day programs with the Clean City Danbury Day event. This fusion is expected to increase volunteer interest, participation, and further expand litter collection, as well as supply our community's younger generations with the opportunity to help preserve what is theirs. A semi-annual Clean City Danbury Day event in the future is also being discussed. Supplying Danbury residents with increased opportunities to keep their community beautiful has encouraged local residents to do their part to help preserve Danbury. Boughton expects the number of active contributors to continue to grow as the blight and litter control programs evolve.

For information about Clean City Danbury Day, contact Michael McLachlan, Chief of Staff at 203-797-4511 or send e-mail to: m.mclachlan@ci.danbury.ct.us