HARTFORD — — City Councilman Luis Cotto emerged from his Park Terrace home recently and noticed what he described as nearly 4-foot-tall weeds growing in the street median.
It wasn't the first time he'd seen too much growth in the road's divider.
"Medians are a very low priority," Cotto said. "We don't have the resources to get to all the city's green spaces. We don't have enough people."
With the approach of the city's "week of the parks," a volunteer effort to clean up parks citywide, Cotto is hoping to spur some interest in the upkeep of street medians. He's proposed an adopt-a-median program that would allow volunteers to select a median and dedicate themselves to keeping it clean and manicured. Under the proposal, volunteers could participate individually or as a group.
The city council is considering his proposal, which was introduced at a meeting last week.
"As the public works department is stretched thin maintaining the parks and other large tracts of city property, these medians and traffic islands can fall by the wayside," Cotto's resolution states. "Hartford residents take great pride in the appearance of their community and are willing to help out if empowered to do so."
"There's a general sense of receptivity to it," among city council members, Councilman Jim Boucher said. "To whatever extent we can excite the community to support the program, that's what we want. I think it'll get good support."
The public works department, which would run the program, could charge volunteers up to $50 for a sign bearing their names that would be placed in each median they clean. Those who don't want credit for their work don't have to pay for the sign, Public Works Director Kevin Burnham said. Burnham didn't have data available for how often city medians are cleaned.
"I think any kind of assistance could be helpful," Burnham said.
The program would conform to all union rules and contracts, Cotto said. It would be established within 90 days of the council passing the resolution. Other cities, such as Indianapolis, Newark, N.J., Dallas and Boulder, Colo., have established such programs, Cotto said.
He said the issue will likely go before council for a vote in September.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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