EDITORIAL: Duke Street success story

York Dispatch

A group of York residents last month littered a city council meeting with complaints about their trashy neighborhoods, demanding officials do more to deal with the mess.

The new Neighborhood Improvement Ordinance, which they had hoped would help, was useless, they said.

That no-warning rule, proposed by Mayor Kim Bracey's administration, would have allowed enforcement officers to issue a $25 ticket on the spot if they saw a violation.

The idea was to get the offender's attention immediately without involving the court system.

It addressed not just litter but other quality-of-life issues, such as failing to remove snow from sidewalks or storing a junk vehicle.

Unfortunately, the ordinance was watered down by city council to the point it was unworkable, according to Bracey.

To date, the 8-month-old rule as not been enforced, although some council members are working to put teeth back into the ordinance.

While commiserating with frustrated residents, the mayor and some members of her administration suggest community members not wait for official relief.

They might just have to pitch in themselves if they want cleaner streets.

That's perhaps little comfort for the homeowner who picks up trash and sweeps her sidewalk twice a day – yet no one would know it thanks to an army of inconsiderate litterbugs.

Sisyphus had better odds.

She should take heart, though, from a group of South Duke Street neighbors' efforts.

It wasn't just trash dragging down the 500 block; not so long ago drug- and gang-related violence has been routine — until the residents had enough and banded together.

Led by 30-year resident Joe Wars, the neighbors — a mix of homeowners and renters, young and old — transformed their little section of Duke Street into a community where kids can play on the streets again and people socialize on their front porches.

With help from Crispus Attucks and Wells Fargo, residents made improvements to the facades of their homes, and there's now a playground occupying a once-vacant lot.

And twice each month, the group of neighbors collects trash scattered throughout the block.

The lesson here: It can be done.

The work might not be easy, but judging by the 500 block of South Duke Street, it's well worth the effort.