Volunteers rallied for clean-ups in Dot and Mattapan

Neighbors and city officials will team up this weekend and fan out across the neighborhood in the second of three Boston Shines weekends aimed at tidying the city after a particularly dingy winter.

“It’s more than just the normal trash you’d see after the winter. We’ve got some pretty bad situations,” said Department of Public Works Commissioner Michael Dennehy. “We’re seeing street light poles damaged beyond repair and more. This year’s cleanup involves more than just a broom and shovel, more than just elbow grease.”

During this weekend’s Boston Shines in Dorchester and Mattapan, the city will deploy groups of volunteers, aided by shovels and equipment provided by the city to clean up at least 24 pockets of Dorchester and seven spots in Mattapan identified by civic groups as those needing the most attention.

Those local groups, which reached out to the city with specific places to clean up ahead of the weekend, will be focusing on Dorchester’s public ways and parks, including Wainwright Park, Four Corners Main Street, Geneva Cliffs, the Orlando Street Tot Lot, Rockmere Street, Meaney Playground, Rundel Park at Ashmont, Florida Street, and Dot Park.

The Department of Public Works has also been on hand to add a little extra muscle to volunteers’ elbow grease. In Mattapan Square last weekend, a crew of construction employees spent the weekend power washing, repairing bricks, fixing traffic signals, painting light poles.

During last year’s Boston Shines the city removed nearly 10 tons of trash and the Public Works Department spent $40,000 in overtime.

Deciding what locations get the most cleanup attention results from coordination and involvement from local groups, the Office of Neighborhood Services’ local liaisons, city councillors’ offices, the mayor’s office, and Chief of Civic Engagement Jerome Smith.

Smith said the civic engagement that results from a cleanup effort like this can be beneficial year-round. “When residents are engaged in their neighborhood, they take more pride and ownership of it. If we didn’t do this, we’d have to wait for street cleaning to get started cleaning the city.”

And with a program like Boston Shines, which last weekend deployed 500 volunteers in Allston-Brighton, “we can dispatch civic minded-individuals to take care of things we normally wouldn’t be able to do,” Smith said. That includes putting down mulch and planting flowers along roadways. “These are things the city would love to do but we just can’t get to. But putting 500 bodies out in a neighborhood to do cleanup makes such a difference.”

Smith added that these three weekends of Boston Shines is just the beginning.

“Now we can take a hard look,” said Smith. “Are there tot lots that need care but there is no money in the budget? Is there one park needs 500 people to help? We can have everyone converge on the tot lot that would have been fifth or sixth on the priority list but that now is first.”

Some community groups have already begun the process of targeted clean-ups. Cedar Grove Baseball deployed teams of parents and coaches two weeks ago to clean-up fields and playgrounds around their home fields, including Ventura Park, Dorchester Park and Victory Road Park.

To get involved in this weekend’s Boston Shines iniaitives in Dorchester and Mattapan, visit cityofboston.gov/ons/bostonshines.