One-woman cleaning crew

first_img“Little stuff like this makes a difference,” she said after finishing her work. McFarland also went to the city with her complaints about the problems with trash on sidewalks and other problems with Uptown. It included a conversation with City Manager Steve Helvey. She wasn’t satisfied. “I called the city manager and he gave me the old razzmatazz,” she said. Helvey said that after their conversation he has had public works employees go to the Alpha Beta site to do some cleaning, but McFarland still isn’t satisfied. “She wanted me to turn Uptown into Disneyland,” he said. “I appreciate her sentiments, but there’s a limit to what we can do.” McFarland said she decided to go public about her effort because of a letter from a R. Rousselle complaining about Uptown Whittier in this newspaper. “When I saw that letter, I realized there were other people who think as I do,” she said. McFarland, who raised four sons and was married for 51 years to the late Lee McFarland, a geologist who founded McFarland Energy Co., said Whittier is important to her. “I want it to be a neat, clean little city,” she said. Her sons include J.C. “Mac,” a member of the Whittier City School Board; Andrew, a resident of Montana; Stuart, who lives in Colorado; and William, still a resident of Whittier. The trash issue isn’t limited to the Alpha Beta site. Merchants also see a problem with sidewalks throughout the Uptown business district, said Larry Trujillo, executive director of the Whittier Uptown Association. “The alleys are OK, the parking lots are OK and the streets are OK, but the sidewalks are the worst,” Trujillo said. “They are in direct need of monthly, if not weekly, care.” Currently they aren’t cleaned, he said. Another problem is the ficus trees that drop berries and stain the sidewalks, Trujillo said. “It makes people feel the business area is run down and in disrepair when most of the shops inside are nicely done and kept up,” he said. Part of the problem is that a former maintenance assessment district lapsed about a year ago, said Nancy Mendez, assistant city manager. The funds that were used to pay for additional cleaning are no longer available. The city still uses it own money to pay for street sweeping, but it only has so much, she said. “There’s a bit of a pull between how much the city can do for a shopping area,” she said. “We don’t clean the sidewalks at the Whittier Town Center, the Quad or Uptown,” Mendez said. “Should the entire city pay for this additional service or it should be a common maintenance charge?” Trujillo responded by saying the streets and sidewalks aren’t private property like Whittier Town Center. They’re public property. It doesn’t help that it’s expensive to clean the sidewalks since the city and even merchants aren’t allowed to just go out and hose them down with water. And just using a broom won’t do much good, Trujillo said. State stormwater rules prevent cities from putting sediment and pollutants into the sewers that run to the ocean, said David Pelser, public works director. Special tools are needed to clean the sidewalks, Trujillo said. The resumption of the assessment district is being studied as well as ways to reduce costs, he said. As for McFarland’s efforts, Trujillo described them as well meaning. “Her intentions are great, but unfortunately it’s barely a drop in the bucket,” he said. [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3022 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! • Video: Keeping Whittier CleanWHITTIER – Twice a week, Ruth McFarland goes out to the now-closed Alpha Beta site and picks up trash. McFarland isn’t a city employee or a person assigned community service paying her debt to society. She’s an 86-year-old woman who is upset about the lack of cleanliness in the city she’s lived in for the past 53 years. “I feel the street department is negligent in many areas,” McFarland said. “Our sweet old town is in trouble and I want to fix it.” McFarland has been going to that area of Uptown for the past 20-plus years to walk, usually with her dog, Roxanne. A couple of months ago she began noticing trash, particularly around the fence surrounding the former grocery store along Comstock Avenue near Hadley Street. “The westerly winds have blown trash into that fence and it looks terrible,” she said. So she began taking a broom and a bucket. On Thursday, she had a full bucket of trash which she took home with her to throw away. last_img

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