Help keep the city clean
With the coming of the warm weather, comes the annual admonition from the West Haven Voice to homeowners and businessowners alike – do a spring cleaning! It’s a task we all must do to keep the city looking brighter.
One of the most popular columns in this publication is the Gripe Vine column, put together by Eleanore Turkington. For about two decades in this paper, and for many years in our predecessors, Turkington has received many letters concerning the manner in which some property owners, be they home or business, neglect their obligations toward the rest of us.
Since the home-buying bubble burst in 1988, and progressively since, the city has seen more and more absentee ownership of property. Many multi-family dwellings are not the domiciles of the owners, but rented out and – one would hope – kept up. That is not always the case.
While many property owners are very good about maintaining their properties, many are just rent collectors, taking care of things in a minimal way so they can rent their apartments, but disregarding the affects such a minimal attitude has on their surrounding neighborhoods.
In the last few years, we have seen a proliferation of cars being parked on lawns, driveways used as auto body shops, lawns left unkempt and uncut, porches and stoops decaying, and homes needing a paint job. Property owners should make it very clear to their renters what is allowable behavior and what is not. Silence means consent. People will not curb their actions if they believe they can get away with them, or that behavior is being countenanced by the owner.
Spring is a good time to get things into shape. Many writers to Gripe Vine decry the lack of city maintenance at a park or intersection causing a problem or eyesore. Many of these same people, however, are blind to what their own behavior does to their surroundings and how it affects property values.
Businesses, many times, are the worst offenders. Again, it goes without saying (though these days one must make sure one does) that many business owners are very good about maintaining the space in front of their shops or stores or offices. There are some, however, who think keeping things swept and tidy are tasks left to city crews that occasionally street sweep or cut grassy areas.
The point is keeping the city clean is a joint effort. Everyone has a role in making things in our city better. Our financial outlook is said to be emerging from a decades-long rut. This new optimism has to be taken up by our residential and business property owners as well.
No one likes our city to be called “Waist” Haven. Yet, it is our own neglect that has made the epithet a truer characterization of things than we would like.
Toward that end, the city had a Beautification Committee more than two decades ago. That committee gave weekly or monthly awards to homeowners and businesses that joined in the effort to make things better. Those awards were published in this paper.
We would like to see a renewed committee and a renewed effort. As the city celebrates its centennial as a municipality, reconstituting the Beautification Committee as a grassroots group would be a small step towards making a cleaner West Haven a top priority.
Let’s try to work together to make a newer, brighter, cleaner city possible.