Litter is a problem all communities face, including our own. There's evidence that litter leads to more littering and is an important quality-of-life issue in many parts of our city.
Several interested individuals and organizations, as well as Peoria County, are working with the City of Peoria's Litter Control Program to improve our community. These groups are working not only to reduce litter, but to make people more conscious of it. They're urging our citizens to be more responsible and to change their behavior to reduce litter.
Peoria City Beautiful received a grant from the City of Peoria to develop a public relations campaign-"Pick Up Peoria"-to make people aware that littering isn't acceptable behavior. They've used billboards, public service announcements, and signs on buses to help spread their message.
Dorian LaSaine, a local attorney, coordinated the start-up of a litter control program that involves people required to perform community service as punishment for minor infractions of the law. These individuals are given the opportunity to voluntarily participate in this program to satisfy their community service requirements. The City of Peoria's Code Enforcement Division works with the Peoria County Adult Probation Division to arrange for individuals to pick up litter and tires in the city. So far in 2004, 2,873 hours have been worked, 17,482 pounds of litter have been picked up, and 1,145 tires have been removed from Peoria's streets and alleys. This year alone, 35 individuals have completed their community service hours through this program.
This program has saved taxpayers thousands of dollars. But, in addition to the financial benefit, the individuals involved have higher self-esteem and self-worth. Productive work can reduce their chances for recidivism and help make them better members of our community.
Improved Waste Collection
The City of Peoria's Code Enforcement Division, along with Peoria City Beautiful's Litter Awareness Committee, has worked with Waste Management to implement a pilot toter program. This grassroots program targets specific areas of the city that have been identified as having a problem with litter caused by having a faulty waste collection system. Each residence in these areas has been offered a 90-gallon toter free for one year. After one year, they'll have an opportunity to either pay for the continued use of the toter or discontinue the service. It's expected more than 1,500 toters will be delivered this summer. The use of toters can make a significant difference because less litter is blown than when garbage cans and plastic bags are used. Not only do the toters prevent litter from scattering, but also increase efficiency for Waste Management since mechanical arms can quickly empty the toters into the truck.
Funds have been allocated for three temporary code enforcement aides and two support staff to be hired this summer. The additional staff has allowed increased enforcement of city codes relating to weed and litter control. More tickets and work order clean-ups have been done this year than in any previous year.
Being proactive to change the behavior of people who cause litter is the best long-term solution to control our litter problems. All of the efforts to improve the situation are excellent examples of collaboration and intergovernmental cooperation. We'll continue to work on various programs that will combine the talents of many individuals and organizations to continue improving the quality of life in our community. IBI