‘Improvement Team’ headed to streets of Mattapan on Aug. 29

Weeds growing out of the cracks in the sidewalk? Parking or street signs too faded? Pothole repair needed? Put it all on the list to send to City Hall.

City officials say they’ll be hitting Mattapan with a “Street Improvement Team” on Aug. 29, aiming to clean up local streets block-by-block. A clean-up of the Morton and Norfolk area of Dorchester is planned for Nov. 14. Follow-ups will be planned a week later.

Other work includes fixing vandalized street signs and damaged poles, painting traffic signal control boxes, power-washing the streets, and towing away abandoned cars. Additional neighborhoods are expected to be added to the list throughout the rest of this year and into next spring.

A team of city workers fixed up streets and outdoor city equipment in Grove Hall last weekend. “We were out doing crosswalks, trimming the trees,” said Transportation Commissioner Thomas Tinlin. “It was really good government at work. This is ‘let’s get off the thoroughfares.’ ”

Mattapan residents welcomed the news. Lillie Searcy, executive director of the Mattapan Family Services Center, which serves low-income residents, said streets in the neighborhood desperately need to be cleaned.

“The grass is growing up in the cracks of the sidewalk,” she said. “That’s a problem throughout Mattapan,” she added. “The sidewalks really need to be cleaned.”

“With the rains, things are growing like crazy,” added Steve Busby, executive secretary of the Mattapan Board of Trade.

Busby had his own list of what needs fixing. “We’ve been fighting for a long time to get signs replaced,” he said. “The parking lots need some attention in terms of potholes. I’ll be carrying my notebook through the square this weekend.”

Busby also questioned why city staffers are coming on a Saturday and being paid overtime.

Mattapan Square is busiest on Saturdays, he said. “It just seems a strange time to be cleaning up the sidewalks.”

Tinlin told the Reporter that the team’s outing can be moved, but a Saturday was picked in order for them to run into people when they weren’t at work, giving them a chance to provide a repair request in person. (Otherwise, city officials said, requests for repairs must go through City Hall at 617-635-4500.)

“We want to hear from the people who are home,” he said. Tinlin added that the overtime for city workers has been built into the city’s fiscal 2010 budget.

Searcy wondered where the clean-ups will take place, saying various streets need attention, not just the business corridor.

“Where we hit is up to her,” Tinlin responded. “Where the neighborhood wants us to go, that’s where we’ll be.”

City officials are also coming to Dorchester to deliver 64-gallon recycling carts and clean up graffiti.

Based on information from the Boston Police Department and local residents, a “Graffiti Busters” team is expected to tackle graffiti in various neighborhoods next week, including Aug. 25 in Dorchester.

In a bid to encourage recycling, Mayor Thomas Menino will also be on Lombard and Carruth Streets on Thursday to deliver a recycling cart to the home of residents Charlie and Judy Tuttle. The carts allow residents to keep recyclable materials in one container, a practice known as “single-stream” recycling.

Mattapan, Lower Mills, and Franklin Field have all received the carts, according to the mayor’s office, and the Neponset Ave. area is next.