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LYNN — The city’s war on trash kicked off with work crews hauling away refuse accumulated on downtown streets during the winter and spring.
Essex Sheriff’s Department crews and individuals fulfilling court-ordered community service directives filled trash bags last week with debris layered on Washington Street and other downtown streets.
City Public Works Commissioner Andrew Hall said street trash accumulated to a greater degree this year than in past years because precautions in place to keep workers safe from coronavirus prompted the city to cancel the spring citywide street sweep.
A vendor is paid during the fall and spring to mechanically sweep Lynn’s 162 miles of streets with each sweep costing the city $54,000.
Public Works crews are zeroed in on parks and playground trash cleanups and Hall admits the decision to double trash collection frequency in city parks and playgrounds barely allows city workers to keep up with overflowing barrels and accumulating litter.
“If there’s any message out there it is, please, pick up after yourself and don’t toss trash out of your car window,” Hall said.
City Councilors are angry over trash-strewn streets and parks with Ward 7 Councilor Jay Walsh blaming littering on a small number of residents or people passing through Lynn.
“It’s a never-ending battle for the city. It comes down to people who need to stop throwing stuff on the ground. I see people throw soda cans out of car windows. Who said our city is someone’s private ashtray?” Walsh said.
Walsh and Ward 5 Councilor Dianna Chakoutis called on residents and visitors to the city to take more responsibility for trash pickup.
“I’ve noticed the entrances to parks are a disgrace,” Chakoutis said, noting Barry Park and the entrances to Lynn Woods are trash-strewn even with Public Works emptying barrels on a more-frequent basis.
“They can’t keep up. It even seems people are cleaning out their cars and dumping the contents on the ground,” Chakoutis said.
Hall said High Rock Park is also attracting litter bugs even with additional city attention focused on cleaning up the park.
With coronavirus limiting travel options, Hall said playgrounds and parks are getting more use and more trash. He said a fall city-wide sweep is planned. Budget limitations — for now — will cancel the spring 2021 sweep.
“Andy and his crews have been really good but we need a systemic change in behavior,” Walsh said.