Look high, look low around downtown and you’ll notice its dirty. Winter weather and colder temperatures tend to make civic housekeeping an exercise in futility.
The summertime maintenance routines of shopkeepers may include collecting trash, storefront sidewalk sweeping and window and awning cleaning, but winter weather and seasonal doldrums tend to keep people indoors.
City street sweeping occurs year-round, but wintertime street cleaning using water is suspended so as not to create icy patches. Even as daytime temperature begin to rise, shaded areas on the north sides of downtown buildings can remain cold and slippery for both vehicles and people.
The arrival of spring brings us back outdoors to face winds that blow dust and dirt over everything. Downtown window cleaners shine storefront glass only to have them covered with red clay the next day. Sidewalk power washing? What’s the point? Yet over the winter months, cigarette litter and gum build up on sidewalks, along curbs and in streets.
The upcoming Memorial Day weekend is always a good marker that it’s time for all to pitch in, roll up the sleeves and bring downtown back to shipshape. The idea of spring cleaning is one of those values that most people grow up with. At home, we feel the urge to wash windows, clean out the garage and bring out the patio furniture. At work we purge files and deep clean our work stations. It just feels good.
On Thursday, May 22, the Business Improvement District will work with city’s Parks and Recreation Department to place 101 blooming barrels of flowers around downtown. Many merchants put out their own displays of flowers and greenery and even benches.
The next day, Friday, May 23, the city, the BID and the Durango Chamber of Commerce combine efforts in the annual downtown Clean Day. The event draws a large crowd of volunteers, and for several hours, cleaning teams are deployed with bags and brooms. Other tasks include graffiti and sticker removal. The event is open to all, and volunteers should assemble at 8:30 a.m. at Keller Williams parking lot on the east side of the 700 block of Main Avenue. Carver Brewing Co. will provide coffee, pastries and a free T-shirt to help jump-start the project.
What else can be done? Business owners can reduce the amount of cigarette litter on sidewalks by providing outdoor cigarette urns. Smoking is not allowed within 15 feet of entrances to businesses, so cigarette litter can accumulate quickly in concentrated areas. Discarded cigarette butts swept to the curb end up in the city storm drains that flow to the river.
It’s not easy, and cleaning responsibility for something as large and complex as a downtown can be passed off as “someone else’s job.” Take a moment, and if you catch someone in the act of caring for our downtown, thank them. Such a beautiful outdoor environment deserves a beautiful town.
email@example.com. Bob Kunkel is the downtown business development manager for the city of Durango.