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This week’s edition!

Only Steps Forward: Street sweepers, spring clean-up and improving curb appeal

By Jonathan P. LaBonte

Mayor of Auburn

Spring has sprung here in Auburn, and that means more sprouting of leaves on trees and the greening of grass in our dozens of city parks. In the coming weeks, street sweepers will be out in our neighborhoods, spring clean-up efforts will have bulky waste piling up by the curb, and road construction crews will be taking to many city streets.

One of the first priorities someone hears from their realtor when they are looking to sell their home is curb appeal. On a much larger scale, the same applies to a city. When visitors, potential new residents or even interested investors and business owners travel through our community, the first impression makes a big difference—and spring is the big season to kick this off.

In the next couple weeks, residents can do their part in a couple of ways. If you are planning to sweep that winter sand from your yards and driveways, now is the time to do it before the city’s crews come by to sweep the streets and sidewalks. The website listed at the end of this column will help you navigate to the schedule of when your street will be swept.

You can also lend a hand by cleaning up any brush or other bulky waste that may be hanging around your home that you haven’t been able to haul away. City crews from our Public Services Department will be making scheduled rounds of the city to collect those items that you leave curbside. Again, the link below will help you find the dates for your street, as well as the date you can begin putting out materials.

While sweeping and bulky waste are some immediate curb-appeal improvements, spring also starts heavy construction season, and a number of neighborhood streets are up for reconstruction and improvement this season.

The long-awaited completion of the Park Avenue reconstruction is underway and will be done this year. With the growth of the big box stores, Park Avenue has sadly become more a cut-through for traffic. With the improvements to the street, including extension of sidewalks all the way to Mount Auburn Avenue, I’m hopeful it will feel more like a neighborhood street again. We can’t force traffic onto other streets, but street design can help to slow them down.

Speaking of street design slowing down cars, the reconstruction of the entirety of Hampshire Street, from Gamage Avenue east to Turner Street, will create a completely different look for those driving through. The major focus of this project was to improve the experience and safety of Auburn residents who live in and walk through this area: narrow travel lanes for cars, wider sidewalks, improved lighting for pedestrian visibility and more crosswalks.

Other neighborhood streets in the hopper for this year include Lake Street, off Court Street, and Cook Street in New Auburn. While neither of those streets see the traffic volume of Park Avenue or Hampshire Street, they are relatively busy for cars, but are also a favorite of residents for evening walks, especially as we head into the warmer months. Having local streets with safe sidewalks improve quality of life and adds to that all important curb appeal.

Many thanks to our hard-working team in Public Services and our volunteers with the Complete Street Committee, who are helping advance projects like this in Auburn. It takes a lot of work behind the scenes to turn project ideas into reality, and we are seeing the fruits of those efforts.

For more information on these services and other upcoming projects, or to learn more about programs of the city that strive to improve our neighborhoods, please visit: www.auburnmaine.gov/Pages/neighborhood.

If you have ideas for improving curb appeal in your part of the city or elsewhere, don’t hesitate to reach out at jlabonte@auburnmaine.gov or 333-6601 ext 1216. Since we are now in budget season, it’s the best time to get ideas out and discussed.

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