Belen resident hoping citizens will pitch in and clean up neighborhood

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When Regina Griego, a Belen resident for more than 45 years, walks around her neighborhood, she gets discouraged at the unsightly homes and streets she passes by.

The buildings surrounding her Second Street home are vacant, attracting crime, full of trash tumbling about, bursting with weeds or have dilapidated furniture sprawling in the front lawns.

"It's an eyesore," Griego said.

That's why Griego and her husband, Edwin, are asking local businesses to donate supplies and homeowners and volunteers to donate their time for the Neighborhood Clean Up Day scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 25.

"We want to inspire the neighborhood and instill pride, because its depressing looking around and seeing all the weeds and trash," she said.

The clean up will extend along First and Second streets from Reinken to Ross avenues.

During the event, about 50 homeowners will be provided with paint, remove trash and trim overgrown greenery on their properties.

With these resources available, neighbors can paint their homes' facade, fence or window trims, get rid of unwanted trash and weeds, trim bushes and overgrown trees or repair a worn down porch.

"Let's say someone is struggling (financially) or can't find the motivation, well we're removing all of those excuses," Griego said.

The couple presented information about the clean up day at a recent city council meeting in an effort to build support for the event.

"We, the neighborhoods, are ready, willing and able to make this effort work," states a letter to councilors about the event.

The Griegos began looking into a neighborhood clean up after La Hacienda Apartments, across the street from the Griego's home, received a $1.7 million face lift. The renovations sparked a neighborhood change, bringing in the laughter of children and taking away the sound of gun shots, Griego said.

"When we saw what could be done, we got faith and said, 'We can do this,'" she said.

The Los Lunas' Lowe's and Home Depot have jumped on board to donate supplies and hands willing to work.

"Even if it's just the facade — a new screen door or painting the window trims or trimming the weeds and trees — that's already an improvement right there," Griego said.

Councilor Wayne Gallegos said it's refreshing to see a resident solve problems in their own neighborhood instead of sending a code enforcement complaint to the city and demanding the city clean up their neighborhood.

"It is the responsibility of the members of this community to keep their neighborhoods up and that's what you're doing," Gallegos said. "You've taken the lead in your neighborhood and that makes it much easier for us to respond to."

Mayor Rudy Jaramillo agreed citizens need to take an interest in keeping their property and surrounding areas clean.

"I take care of my area, because my home is right there and I want my home to look nice," Jaramillo said. "I'm not over here waiting on the city crew to come and take the weeds away."

This event might push others to undertake a similar clean up in their own neighborhood, Griego said.

"Maybe two other streets will say, 'Hey, I can do that,'" she said.


-- Email the author at aortiz@news-bulletin.com.