"Operation Clean Sweep" to Target Neighborhood Blight

We see rundown homes and overgrown lots in so many areas. They call it blight and it's a huge problem in many Savannah neighborhoods. But today, the city took some big steps toward stomping it out.

It started with residents and city officials. It's Operation Clean Sweep: a city-wide effort to turn around Savannah's problem neighborhoods.

Kenneth Dunham has lived in West Savannah nearly all of his life. And blight, he says, has been here for a good portion of it. "That house has been like that for several years now. Seven or eight years or even longer."

Right next door, it's the same thing. And whether abandoned or occupied, each home has the same sad surroundings.

One of the biggest problems is that it seems that no matter where you turn, litter and debris are just about everywhere.

Kenneth's wife Frances says it's out of control. "This is God's green earth. And it must make him sad to see how we trash it. So I try to clean it up."

Richard Law doesn't even live in this neighborhood, but got word about bad it is. "It don't make sense. They got trash cans to put it in."

Operation Clean Sweep isn't just a one-day event. City workers have a whole list of neighborhoods to help clean up, and then there's the follow-up visits to make sure residents are keeping the place clean.

Kenneth and Frances are optimistic. "We will have to keep it clean," said Kenneth.

But only if their neighbors, block by block, join in.

For those people who won't maintain their properties after the sweep, the city will take offenders to Recorder's Court where property owners could face up a thousand dollar fine, 30 days in jail, or both.

Operation Clean Sweep is splitting the city into four zones, targeting one neighborhood a month in each zone:

ZONE 1 (south of DeRenne Avenue and west of Bull Street): FIRST Saturday of the month
ZONE 2 (north of DeRenne Avenue and west of Bull Street): SECOND Saturday of the month
ZONE 3 (south of DeRenne Avenue and east of Bull Street): THIRD Saturday of the month
ZONE 4 (north of DeRenne Avenue and east of Bull Street): FOURTH Saturday of the month

Reported by: Dmitra Denmark, ddenmark@wtoc.com