Rotary Club President Steve Allen discusses the club's public service project working to eliminate cigarette butt litter during Mayor Hubbard's Call to Service on Saturday at the Albany Civic Center.
ALBANY — About 200 people who cared showed up for the “2012 Mayor’s Call to Service” in the Albany Civic Center Saturday.
“That’s the problem with the city,” said B.J. Fletcher, an Albany businesswoman. “We’ve got 94,000 people and even if only one percent came that would be 940 people.”
Starting the meeting, Mayor Dorothy Hubbard acknowledged that she was preaching to the choir. But in earlier conversations, she hinted that that was part of the plan.
The committed could sign to help the city clean up and also recruit their neighbors to join them, she said.
“We toured our town and assessed we had to do more,” Hubbard said. “The city and the county (officials) decided there is a need for us to be together and clean up the city.”
The mayor offered a partnership between elected officials, government staff members and the residents to do the work. The work, according to a mission statement, is to motivate all residents of the city and Dougherty County to take an interest in keeping their block clean, drug and crime free, leading to healthier, cleaner and safer neighborhoods.
Many of the issues facing the city — trashed blocks, junked vehicles and abandoned houses — can be dealt with if people pitch in and call 311 to report the problems, officials said.
Speaking on the legal issues involved, Municipal Court Judge Willie Weaver described the meanings of terms.
“A Nuisance is anything within the city that causes hurt, inconvenience or damage to another,” Weaver said. “The standard is whether an ordinary reasonable person would see the conduct or lack of conduct as nuisance.”
Outlining typical nuisances, Weaver said they can be obnoxious odors, stagnant water and accumulations of grass, weeds and junk.
“It reminds me of Fred Sanford,” Weaver said. “All that he thought was beautiful, we don’t need in the city.”
The law says that vacant homes must be secured, Weaver said. Windows must be in place, doors locked and grass cut. Call 311 if it is not done, he added.
The parties that can be cited for allowing properties to decline are the people having the deed, the party given notice by the city, any person with an interest in the property by court records and, he emphasized, the person in possession of the property — the renter.
“We don’t want to fine you,” Weaver said. “We want you to clean up.”
What Hubbard and other officials such as Keep Albany Dougherty Beautiful Executive Director Judy Bowles want is for people to make a commitment to the cause.
Bowles had an “Organized Block Manual” with instructions on organizing, developing a plan of action and more explained in it, placed on all the seats at the meeting.
Contracts or pledges to help were also on the chairs. Many were collected at the end of the meeting.
Hubbard said, “I am asking that neighborhood watches, churches, civic organizations, businesses, schools and colleges and every dedicated man and woman who wishes for a brighter future to get involved. Pledge to make ‘The Good Life City’ a reality once again.”
For information on the program call 311 or (229) 450-5257.