Niagara Gazette

April 21, 2013

Organizers talk date change after weather puts damper on Beautify Niagara again

Organizers talk date change after weather puts damper on another Beautify Niagara event

By Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Since 2006, the Niagara Beautification Commission has been living up to its name with massive, citywide cleanup efforts. But this year’s fell victim to a strong dose of Mother Nature’s wrath Saturday.

Two days after thermometers touched 80 degrees, snowflakes whipped through the air and a brutal wind made it difficult for volunteers to pick up some of the trash around Niagara Falls during the latest Beautify Niagara.

After rain spoiled the 2012 cleanup, organizer Norma Higgs said she’s considering a date change.

“I think next year, we’re going to move it to May,” Higgs said through a smile, despite the temperature barely reaching 40 degrees Saturday afternoon. “With last year and now this year, it’s been brutal. In past years, we had nice days. We’d have kids playing in the park. But climate change has really changed the seasons.”

Though the weather put a damper on the mood, it didn’t have as much of an affect on the event’s turnout. Hundreds of volunteers shivered their way through cold temperatures to pick up stray trash along city streets. Focused efforts hit multiple sections of Niagara Falls, including downtown, around Hyde Park and Highland Avenue, though crews also made quick work of other areas too.

Assemblyman John Ceretto and his staff decided to take a bite out of the grounds outside his district office on Pine Avenue. He said the concerted effort to clean the city makes him proud to be representing the area.

“It’s neighbors helping neighbors,” he said. “It was nice to be out in the community cleaning up the area. Outside our office, we try to keep it clean all year, but having all those people out doing it was great.”

While volunteers focused on picking up various pieces of litter, a different action was being taken by the city’s code enforcement office Saturday. Dennis Virtuoso and his staff went on a coordinated blitz of about 15 blocks in the city, an attempt to kick off a series of actions to make a lasting impression on the appearance of the city.

Virtuoso said the blitz produced more than 100 citations for a variety of code infractions, from peeling paint to things serious enough to require demolition. Now, all the office needs to do is follow up with more action, he said.

“This is going to be ongoing,” he said. “We’ll be out there doing this a couple times per month. We did it two years ago and had great results.”

Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.