Harlan Park Civic Association

Trash Summit Links Harlan Park CA with Citizens Throughout City

Nov 16, 2004

Monday, November 15, citizens and city government representatives gathered at the Police Athletic League (PAL) at 3707 N. Market Street to address the issue of trash in the City of Wilmington.

Initiated by City Councilman Bud Freel and University of Delware Professor Cathy Denhart, the trash summit was organized and led by U of D students taking Denhart's course on civic engagement.

Students presented an introductory video that combined images of Wilmington parks and buildings - some clean and well-cared, others neglected and litter-strewn.

Following the video presentation, the summit was divided into smaller discussion groups, each led and facilitated by students. These groups reviewed and discussed causes and solutions for trash in the City, and attempted to identify existing community resources that could be used to implement the solutions.

While the students will be compiling the official results of the summit and mailing the information to attendees, it seemed clear that most groups felt that the main underlying cause of trash problems is an irresponsible (or perhaps uniformed) citizenry. Participants cited a lapse of values and ongoing leadership in the community, and debated whether limited city resources were a cause or effect of the dwindling personal responsibility that individuals and buisnesses take for keeping Wilmington clean.

To address the situation, it was suggested by one participant that the solution will be "Education, education, education." It was also suggested that Wilmington undertake a public relations campaign specifically targeting an anti-litter message. Others recommended that enforcement and penalties be increased to give existing trash codes traction.

An important point that was cited by participants is that the issue of keeping a city clean is an ongoing process that cannot be addressed by one-time clean-ups. Too many civic associations can attest to the short-lived glory of a vacant lot cleaned-up, only to return to neglect in short order.

At the conclusion of an evening that ran long due to enthusiastic discussion, Bud Freel pledged that the City will keep after this issue, and that it will not remain perpetually in the discussion stage. Freel expects that citizens can look for preliminary results within the next six months, and encourages all citizens to become a part of the solution.

To review the existing City of Wilmington Trash Codes, check out the Harlan Park Civic Association Web Site, and to get involved in regular Harlan Park Community litter pick-ups, contact Chad Nelson at cwn3d@hotmail.com.

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