It's that time of year: Help clean your neighborhood this weekend

After this long and snowy winter, everyone in the city is looking forward to spring. It's time to start cleaning up. Cleaning the remnants of the winter's storms and all of the sand and refuse that has accumulated on our streets will make our neighborhoods sparkle once again.

The neighborhood Street Cleaning Program just began its spring season a few weeks back. The program is a combined effort of the Public Works Department, my Office of Neighborhood Services and the Boston Transportation Department, and sweeps most neighborhood streets twice a month from April through November. We are asking residents to do their part by moving their vehicles during the posted street cleaning days or risk having their vehicles towed. As the program starts, so do parking enforcement officers who will begin giving $40 tickets to cars in the posted areas accompanied by tow companies contracted by Public Works.

 Our neighborhoods are what make this city great and we have to make sure they are being taken care of. Neighborhood Response Teams, or NRTs, are being created as a way to keep our communities clean. We have seen great success with the programs in East Boston, Charlestown, Bowdoin/ Geneva, South End/ Lower Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, Grove Hall, Mattapan and we have a new one starting in North End.

The teams themselves will be made up of representatives from a wide field of City agencies including my Office of Neighborhood Services, Inspectional Services, Public Works, Transportation, Parks and the Boston Police.

 Another great clean up project is Boston Shines. Please join us on Friday, April 25th and Saturday, April 26th, in neighborhoods all over the city, as we all help to make Boston Shine. A spring clean up is the perfect way to say good-bye to winter and welcome in the spring. Boston Shines is an opportunity to work side by side with neighbors, corporate volunteers, universities, neighborhood businesses, public organizations and private agencies. This year will be the largest event to-date, with new opportunities for corporate and neighborhood volunteers.

Boston Shines is a great example of a public/private partnership that helps to get the city back to looking its best. Now in its fifth year, this event has become an annual tradition that keeps getting bigger and better every year. In our first citywide cleanup, we had over 5,000 volunteers turn out. And three years ago, we extended the cleanup over two days and really got the business community involved. The more involvement we have from the business community and our public sector partners, the more we can really make Boston shine!

I encourage businesses and community groups to volunteer their time and to donate tools and supplies to help us pull off this massive two-day event. To pull off such an extensive effort, the community needs to help. At this very moment, my staff is out in the communities wrangling up volunteers. Help your city look great by doing something simple - decide on a project, get some neighbors together and get to work.

For more information about joining groups and the clean up locations, please go to the City's website at

 To make a financial contribution, please make checks payable to: The Fund for Boston Neighborhoods, Room 802, Boston City Hall, Boston, MA 02201. Attn: Boston Shines.

Thomas M. Menino is the mayor of the city of Boston.