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Mayor Walsh Announces Year Round Citizen Engagement Effort to Clean Up Litter in Syracuse

Scott Willis/WAER News

The snow is gone, hopefully for good, and that’s left behind the usual layer of litter in and around Syracuse.  Mayor Ben Walsh announced an effort today that he hopes inspires residents to pick up trash not just now, but year round.  It’s called Clean-up ‘Cuse: Adopt a Block, where individuals, school groups, businesses, organizations and others can conduct monthly litter clean-ups in a two block area. 

“Every child in the city that shows up at a playground shouldn’t have to play around trash and litter. Every resident that is looking at a neighborhood to invest in shouldn’t have to worry about trash along the streets. So we can’t do it alone. We need the community’s help.”

Walsh says a map will be up soon on the city’s website showing the blocks that have been adopted.  The city will provide bags and tongs, and coordinate with DPW to pick up the collected trash.  Former common councilor Bob Dougherty has been named community chair of the program.  He’s picked up litter in the Valley for decades, and was pleased to see another effort on his way to the press conference.

Credit Scott Willis/WAER News
Bob Dougherty (right) standing at the podium next to Mayor Ben Walsh.

“I don’t know if it’s just a coincidence or not, but I was driving down Salina Street. I saw a bunch of kids from the Elms [Expeditionary Learning Middle] School walking down the street with bags of garbage doing their own cleanup and I think that’s wonderful: especially to get young people out there thinking about this. People talk about how they don’t like the way the city looks but people want to help. They just need some organization, so I think this’ll be a great effort.”

Mayor Walsh says the city’s program actually builds upon Onondaga County’s Block Litter campaign.  County Executive Joanie Mahoney is encouraged by the enthusiasm, and says they’ll share information between the groups with hopes of having a more coordinated impact.  She says the implications of litter extend far beyond the city’s streets.

“When litter is dropped on the city streets and the rain washes it into the storm drains, it ends up Onondaga Creek and then the creek sends it to Onondaga Lake. It’s not just a city issue. It’s not just a beautification issue. It’s also a lake cleaning issue.”

Credit Scott Willis/WAER News
Clean Up 'Cuse volunteers chat after the press conference.

Those interested in the Clean Up ‘Cuse program can sign up at and find the Adopt a Block link.  An official city-wide kick-off for the program will be held June 2nd