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A prettier city: Manchester has a plan

There are a lot of things we Americans assume the government will take care of for us, when really we should do them ourselves, at least in part. Beautifying our cities is one of them. In Manchester, volunteers have periodically planted flowers or cleaned up trash. Now the city is renewing an initiative to coordinate beautification efforts on a city-wide scale. Residents ought to get on board.

This is the kind of task that is done well when coordinated by city officials, but not performed entirely by city employees. Nothing against city employees, of course, but there can be only so many of them, and beautification is not a task that can or should be done only by the government. Why should urban beautification be done in a way that costs taxpayers money when the city could do it and break even, or at least mitigate the losses, instead?

The city Public Works Department has a three-prong plan to involve citizen volunteers and businesses in the beautification process in a constructive way: 1. Citizens or companies could sign a two-year contract to adopt a street or neighborhood for cleanup or beautification. 2. Companies could sponsor small public squares or medians. 3. Companies could sponsor big projects such as high-profile intersections. We would suggest that the city include public parks, playgrounds and recreational facilities in its list of sponsorship opportunities.

In fact, we have recommended exactly these sorts of volunteer beautification projects for years. They present a great opportunity for the city to enhance its appearance at little cost (maybe even a profit) while encouraging public spiritedness and voluntarism. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen should give this idea rapid approval so the city can undertake it right away.

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