Sidwalk grime in our village


FOR MONTHS, I’ve had a running dialogue in my column about the sidewalk grime in our Village. I’ve aired letters and complaints like this one from Susan Garner, who says: “I am a 20-year resident of Montclair and have seen the shopping district go through quite a metamorphosis since 1983. I walk through the Village daily and am continually disgusted with the state and smell of the sidewalk outside Noah’s Bagels and Jamba Juice.”

Now for the good news: The Montclair Village Association has just hired an Oakland company to sweep the sidewalks twice a week and steam clean them once a month. There will be manual sweeping every Monday and Thursday morning, which is bound to make a difference — especially in front of the bus stops. And monthly steam cleaning will keep some of the coffee and dog urine stains from setting in.

But let’s hope this campaign does something else, too. Call me old-fashioned, but I’d like to see more merchants (in addition to the malt shop owner) keep their storefronts clean.

The business district has a small sidewalk steamer that someone donated, and it rarely gets used. But just today, staff at Italian Colors borrowed it.

Maybe the scrub-down will be contagious. Maybe dog owners and coffee drinkers and cigarette smokers will pitch in and clean up after themselves. In this regard, it really does take a village.

Mailbox murmurs

Now that the cleanup campaign is underway, let’s solve another problem in the Village. Reader Jane Herlihy writes: “What we really need, in my humble opinion, is a drive-by mailbox. These days it’s unsafe to leave outgoing mail in one’s home mailbox, so we must deliver it somewhere.”

Jane suggests a drive-up mailbox where you can roll down your car window and drop the mail in — without parking. If Movie Express can do it in Montclair, why can’t the U.S. Postal Service?

Well, Robbie Neely of the Piedmont Pines Homeowners Association says this issue is a top priority with her group and the new Montclair Safety and Improvement Council. Two sites that are now being discussed for new postal boxes: Scout Road at the corner of Mountain, and the north end of the Village near the tennis courts.

Robbie says the postal service has actually been very cooperative. Finding a safe plot of land has been the delay — but she says we’re almost there.

E-mail bag

Reader JoAnne Auerbach has a suggestion for parents and grandparents reading this column: She says Oakland author Armin Brott has written a number of books on parenting, including “Father for Life.” “He also has a weekly radio show (Positive Parenting at 8 a.m. Sunday on FM 96.5) KOIT, and writes a syndicated column on parenting issues. He knows his stuff and his books are fun and easy to read,” she says.

Mini Olympics

Dozens of Oakland’s inner-city kids have just wrapped up the opportunity of a lifetime. They competed in a national sports tournament, hosted this year by the city of San Francisco.

The U.S. Youth Games have been going on since 1966, with a different host city each year. Oakland fielded teams in volleyball, swimming, basketball and tennis, and some of the kids got to stay overnight in college dorms — with events from early morning until late at night.

In the end, most got medals and a big boost to their self esteem. Call it a mini Olympics.

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