Teaming up to tackle litter

NAUGATUCK — The borough has taken a new approach to keeping the streets clean.

Naugatuck Police Det. Lt. Greg Dean and Deputy Mayor Tamath Rossi have been working with Alternative In the Community (AIC) to bring people who have to complete court-mandated volunteer hours into the borough to pick up trash along the roads.

“Litter has always been an issue,” Rossi said. “You’re not going to draw new businesses if you come off the highway and the town looks awful. The problem is, since we have had to cut back so significantly on our [Department of Public Works] crews, there is just too much and they can’t keep up with it.”

AIC is a program run by the Hartford-based nonprofit Community Partners in Action. The program works in conjunction with the Waterbury Superior Court’s probation department to provide opportunities for people who have to perform court-mandated community service hours.

According to Rossi, the program excludes anyone who has previously served jail time or is a sexual offender.

Dean said he contacted AIC in June about the possibility of utilizing the program in Naugatuck.

“They were glad to come out and supply the work we were looking for in town,” Dean said.

Dean said he keeps an eye out for areas that are in need of cleaning and directs AIC to areas that need the most help.

Rossi said the program has brought crews out to pick up trash four times in the past few weeks, including cleaning along sections of Candee Road, North Main Street and Field Street.

“So far they’ve done a tremendous job,” Dean said. “The feedback from community has been extraordinary.”

Rossi said residents have taken notice.

“We’ve already found that residents are going by and thanking them. So it’s a win-win. It’s one of those situations where were able to achieve, through community collaboration, results for our community. It’s great and it’s been really well received,” Rossi said.

Rossi hopes now that residents see the streets being cleaned, they will not toss their trash on the ground.

“Hopefully it will start to encourage people to hold on to their trash until they get to a receptacle,” Rossi said.

Dean is hopeful the program will stand the test of time.

“One thing about successful programs is consistency. We need to keep the relationship with AIC going. That’s what we’re looking to achieve,” Dean said. “We want to move forward and stay consistent. The last thing I want to do is to have the program go off with a bang for three weeks.”