Unlike last year, a plan is in place for cleaning up the aftermath of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations this weekend.
Extra Dumpsters, temporary trash bins, special-duty city work crews and volunteers are part of the new efforts to remove loads of debris from downtown streets and sidewalks.
City leaders and parade organizers began meeting shortly after last year’s St. Patrick’s Day events to create the plan after business owners and downtown leaders were outraged when trash piled up for days.
“We’re just trying to do it right,” deputy administrator Bill Shanahan said. “We’ve put together this plan and everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing.”
The parade, put on annually by the Irish-American Heritage Society of Augusta, was held on a Saturday last year, drawing huge crowds downtown. This year, the holiday is Sunday but the parade and city festivities are scheduled for Saturday.
The parade begins at 2 p.m. and city sponsored activities on the Augusta Common are from 2 to 9 p.m.
When St. Patrick’s Day has fallen on a weekday, city crews on regular work schedules handled cleanup, said Chris Scheuer, deputy director of support services for the recreation, parks and facilities department. Last year, parade organizers were changing leadership and a cleanup plan was overlooked.
Parade chairman Jim Thrash said last year’s oversight was a lesson learned.
“This year, we’re taking a lot of responsibility and making sure Augusta stays clean,” Thrash said.
Parade volunteers will sweep Broad Street immediately after the parade and remove trash bags from cardboard receptacles, placing them in a designated area for city pickup, Thrash said.
According to the plan, a four-person recreation crew will clean the Augusta Common and James Brown Plaza from 2 to 10:30 p.m. At 6 p.m., an additional four-person crew will check the parade route and clean other downtown streets and empty trash cans.
Early Sunday morning beginning about 4 a.m., a crew from the engineering department will clean sidewalks, trash cans and Broad Street parking bays. Then, street sweepers will canvass the area.
A regularly-scheduled Sunday morning staff will clean Riverwalk, the Eighth Street bulkhead, Ninth Street plaza and the old depot area.
Margaret Woodard, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority, said four dumpsters setup near 10th, 11th and 12th streets at Ellis Street and the intersection of Macarten and Jones streets are for restaurants and bars to dispose of extra bags of trash. Last year, the bags sat on curbs until Monday morning, she said.
“The day afterward, people who go downtown are going to be pleased to be downtown,” Shanahan said.