This spring, as LoganSquarist previously reported—and as you undoubtedly perceived with your own appalled eyes—all the garbage buried under winter snows rose to the surface. Residents complained, aldermen offered solutions—and one of those solutions has actually now come to pass: The Logan Square Chamber of Commerce launched an effort to contract with the Cleanslate service to tidy our bottle- and bag-strewn thoroughfares.
The chamber made a Facebook announcement about the program this month, seeking area businesses and property owners to sponsor particular blocks to receive some Cleanslate TLC. Those interested can sponsor blocks for $11 per block per visit. Check out this form to take part.
Cleanslate, a program run by Cara Chicago, has been de-littering neighborhoods across Chicago for over a decade, including just down the Blue Line in Wicker Park. Logan Square will work with the company a little differently, at least for now, compared to how Wicker and other places do, however. Many of those other neighborhoods can fund their efforts because they’ve set up a Special Service Area (SSA). The Chicago-area term for a Business Improvement District, an SSA is a special tax area that permits a neighborhood to put property taxes toward things like litter abatement.
However, Logan Square does not have an SSA. That’s, in part, because setting one up isn’t easy, requiring time-consuming signature drives and potential roadblocks from those who fear increased taxes, said Ally Carvalho, constituent services and community development director for 1st Ward Alderman Daniel La Spata.
Wicker Park, for example, uses SSA funds for its Cleanslate program. Back in spring, some Logan Square residents suggested modeling a program on what Wicker does. But as both La Spata’s and 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack’s offices told LoqanSquarist, Logan can’t quite mirror Wicker’s model, lacking an SSA.
So, the Logan chamber took a different tack, developing this program seeking sponsors for individual blocks.
“I think this is really exciting because I’ve never seen any chamber before do a block-by-block program like this with Cleanslate,” Carvalho said. “So, I think, kudos to the Logan Square chamber for really being creative.”
The work Cleanslate’s done in Wicker Park and elsewhere has earned the company a good reputation, too, Carvalho said. “Cleanslate as an organization has a really great record of doing this in other places throughout the city,” she said.
Just take a stroll along Milwaukee, in particular, or any other main Logan road to remind yourself of the need for some dedicated litter warriors: The snow’s a distant memory, but spring and Earth Day cleanups be damned, the trash keeps coming, a consequence, the chamber said, of the neighborhood’s rising popularity.
“Logan Square is a destination neighborhood,” the chamber said in announcing its new Cleanslate program. “This is wonderful for our businesses and the community, but more traffic brings more garbage. Sometimes our commercial districts are covered in trash and don’t look like a neighborhood we are proud to show off.”
Cleanslate workers wear bright yellow vests and will remove all trash, broken glass and cigarette butts, the chamber said. The workers will also report graffiti, separate recycling, empty trash bins and give you a friendly greeting if you walk by. (That’s seriously listed as one of their duties; I didn’t make that up.)
Sponsors commit to a minimum of six months of weekly cleanups, or 26 visits, paying $11 per visit, all in advance. Sponsoring a cleanup of the square or Woodard Plaza will cost $45.
La Spata’s office didn’t spearhead Logan’s Cleanslate effort—all that credit goes to the Chamber of Commerce—but the alderman’s team has been promoting the program to any businesses and property owners who ask about trash solutions, Carvalho said. The 1st ward team is also researching other potential litter approaches, like where to best place additional trash bins. And they’ve started posting those orange street-sweeping signs even on blocks with permanent signs, which has made sweeping go more smoothly, Carvalho said.
Featured Photo: Michael Dhar