Welcome to Main Street Waterbury. It’s summertime in the Brass City. That means more people out and about in Downtown Waterbury. It’s great to see people walking around downtown, stopping into the various stores and restaurants, taking in some entertainment at Library Park and on the Green as well as other performance venues.

Unfortunately, it also means more litterbugs walking around downtown as well. As I write this month’s column, I must tell you that we are making great strides to keep Downtown Waterbury clean. Our Clean Team has been doing their best to stay ahead of any litter build up. In fact, I would like to congratulate the Clean Team for winning a Connecticut Main Street Award last month. Their efforts are being recognized. As I mentioned in last month’s column, respondents to our survey during the Bike Race in May, answered favorably regarding their perception of a clean downtown Waterbury. These are all encouraging signs.

However, maintaining a clean downtown is a challenging task. Despite our best efforts, litterbugs persist. On a daily basis, there are those who would rather throw their coffee cups, bags and napkins, their pizza paper plates, their candy wrappers and empty cigarette packs as well as their losing, torn in half, instant lottery tickets, on our sidewalks and streets rather than discard them in the over 100 trash receptacles blanketing our downtown district. In addition there are literally thousands and thousands of cigarette butts in our streets, planters, sidewalk grooves, and store alcoves. Also, those entering into our downtown, via the highway, have seen fit to toss their garbage out of their car windows onto the exit ramps making for quite a litter buildup leading to our downtown gateways.

Although the Clean Team has been making great strides, it is an uphill battle and we need your help. That is why, in June, we sent several hundred letters out to all of our downtown businesses and property owners asking them to contribute to the Clean Team so we could pay for additional sidewalk litter picking and sweeping service. Thus far several have contributed and wholeheartedly support our efforts. Several others however have balked asking the question “Isn’t the City supposed to be responsible for keeping the sidewalks clean?”

Let me tell you the facts and the reality. The fact is that it is the responsibility of each property owner to keep the sidewalks bordering their buildings and property clean, swept and free of litter, debris, and snow during the winter. The reality is that while some merchants and property owners do, many DO NOT! Another reality is that the City is responsible for the streets and they have stepped up and increased the Mad-Vac coverage and street sweeping.

The fact is that there is an ordinance for littering and if you are cited, you will have to pay a $100 fine. We are continuing to work closely with our Police Department to see that this ordinance is enforced.

The fact is that we’ve been meeting on a regular basis in the Mayor’s Office to discuss the litter issues and challenges. These meetings are attended by representatives from the Mayor’s Office, Public Works, Police Department, Connecticut Community Foundation, Waterbury Development Corporation, and Main Street Waterbury. The reality is that we are making good progress through collaboration and dialogue.

Folks, make no mistake about it, this is a “public/private partnership”. It’s not just the City, meaning “city government’s” responsibility. We’re all part of it. Here are some ways we can all make a difference:

– If you see litter on the sidewalks, pick it up and properly dispose of it. Set the example.

– If you witness someone littering on the street, sidewalks or from their cars, report them to the Police Dept. at 574-6911. Make sure you get the license plate number.

– If you see an area where dumping and litter build up has occurred, you can call the Citizen Service Center and report it at 597-3444.

– If you own a street front business downtown, put a “smoke post” in front of your establishment for your employees/patrons who smoke. This way, they won’t be inclined to toss the butts in the street as we’ve all witnessed countless times.

– As a business or property owner that keeps the sidewalks in front of your establishment swept and clean, if you have neighbors that neglect their property, please call them and remind them of the existing ordinance.

– If you own a restaurant that serves fast food such as pizza, coffee, anything wrapped, encourage your patrons, through signage, to discard their trash in nearby receptacles. Make them aware of the ordinance.

– If you are a downtown shopper, restaurant patron, resident or visitor, please use the trash receptacles. If you are caught littering, you will be fined.

We are not going to give up on this. There is no reason why any of us should tolerate any litterbug behavior. SO SPREAD THE WORD!!

As for other Main Street Waterbury news, our downtown Design Workshop with Alan Plattus went very well. On Monday June 20, Alan gave a two-hour workshop presentation about the many aspects of design that make up a downtown. Topics he touched upon included gateways, traffic and parking, pedestrian environment, accessibility, directional signage, street furniture, landscaping, buildings, monuments, and downtown housing. Following his presentation, those in attendance broke into two groups and actually walked our downtown district and conducted a design audit. Main Street Waterbury’s Design Committee will continue to conduct this audit in the coming weeks.

Connecticut Main Street Center held a Program Assessment for Main Street Waterbury on June 27. John Simone, Executive Director of CMSC, spent the entire day meeting with our four Main Street Committees as well as the Board of Directors, Mayor Jarjura and other key Downtown stakeholders. While John will submit a formal written report to us in the coming weeks, his initial reaction was extremely favorable as to assessment of our performance thus far.

Main Street Waterbury is presenting a Farmers Market on the Green starting July 14 and every Thursday from 2-6PM. You will be able to purchase Connecticut grown produce as well as eggs, meats and baked goods.

In my next column, I’ll have more to say about events and activities occurring in Downtown Waterbury but in the meantime, as always, I want to thank you for your support in our efforts to revitalize Downtown Waterbury. If you are interested in volunteering for Main Street, you can call my office at 203-757-0701 ext. 302 or email me at crosa@mainstreetwaterbury.com and remember keep thinking Main Street Waterbury, Culture, Education, Business!