By Erika Webb
Deltona Vice Mayor Zenaida Denizac told the commission it's time to clean up Deltona. At the regular commission meeting Jan. 22, the vice mayor suggested implementing an anti-litter campaign: "Think before you throw."
"I brought this forward during our workshop," Vice Mayor Denizac said. "We need to do a little more to make sure our streets are clean."
Placing signs around the city with the slogan, "Think before you throw," is one of the "little steps" Vice Mayor Denizac proposed to the mayor and commissioners.
Another is to talk with fast-food business owners in the city and ask them to join the campaign to create public awareness.
"I've done a lot of research," she said. "Everybody litters."
She said her research revealed men litter more than women.
"It's because their mothers are always picking up after them," Vice Mayor Denizac said, laughing.
She said on her daily drive to work she sees the city's public works employees picking up trash along roadways, mainly on Elkcam Boulevard.
"Then I see (streets) littered with plastic wrap already on the way home," Vice Mayor Denizac said. "It is not acceptable to throw bags out the window."
Commissioner Chris Nabicht suggested partner-ing with the city's contracted refuse collection service provider, Waste Pro.
"I think it's a great program and I support it one hundred percent," he said. "Maybe Waste Pro could print plastic bags, out of recycled materials, with the slogan on them."
Commissioner Nabicht also issued a challenge to "anyone in scouting" suggesting the anti-litter program would "be a fantastic Eagle Scout project."
Commissioner Webster Barnaby commended Vice Mayor Denizac on her initiative.
Recently, he said, his neighbors were probably taken aback as he picked up garbage on his own street. He said they must have wondered why a city commissioner, dressed in a suit, was picking up garbage.
"I love the city and want to be an example to my neighbors," Commissioner Barnaby said.
He added that he wants Deltona "to look as nice as Heathrow and Alaqua and some of those whoop-dee-doo cities do."
Commissioner Barnaby said the anti-litter campaign might provide "a great opportunity" to work with Volusia County Council member Pat Northey.
Mayor John Masiarczyk agreed, citing the fact that if county right-of-ways are involved Deltona would be required to get the county's permission to erect signs there.
The mayor also suggested first placing the "Think before you throw" signs near trash containers located throughout the city.
"That's the first place we should put the signs," Mayor Masiarczyk said. "It doesn't do much good to put a sign up if there's not a spot to put (the trash)."
In other business, the commission unanimously approved a request to allow Orlando-based domestic violence crisis-intervention group, Nuevo Sendero, to use the Harris M. Saxon Community Center for 11 hours a week, at no charge, for the next year.
But first they had questions.
Commissioner Nancy Schleicher voiced concerns about cost to the city, potential liability and possible problems with "abusers" whom she feared might show up at the facility with the intent to harm an individual seeking help there.
"I'm not opposed to things like this," Commissioner Schleicher said, acknowledging similar services offered by The House next Door in DeLand.
"I'm concerned because the Boys and Girls Club meets there," she explained.
Commissioner Barnaby asked if city attorney Becky Vose could "put language into the agreement" to ensure Nuevo Sendero won't charge for services, and will be responsible for damages to, or violence on, the property should those things occur.
"The city would have the right to ask them to leave," Commissioner Barnaby said.
Mayor Masiarczyk said he wasn't willing "to sign a one-year agreement with an organization we know nothing about."
"I'd like to have a presentation," he said. "I'd just like to have a talk with them and understand the organization better."
Vice Mayor Denizac disagreed.
"I feel we're being unfair because we have not required this for other organizations," she said.
Commissioner Heidi Herzberg agreed with the vice mayor, reminding the commission the city provides facilities, fees waived, "to lots of groups."
"I feel there is a need for this (service) in our city," Commissioner Herzberg said.
City of Deltona Parks and Recreation Director Steve Moore told the commission he completed a thorough background check on Nuevo Sendero.
"Every bit of information I received was positive," Mr. Moore said.
Mr. Moore said the faith-based organization "was supported by (Orange County Mayor) Theresa Jacobs' office in Orlando."
The mayor said he still wanted a presentation from the group for "a level of comfort."
Since representatives for Nuevo Sendero were present, the mayor agreed to let a group member address the commissioners' questions.
Nuevo Sendero President Apostle Elias Colon assured commissioners the group has been "very successful in Orlando." He also told them the group is negotiating with a Deltona facility which may agree to provide counseling services to the organization's clients "at no charge."
Commissioner Schleicher wondered if another location might be something to consider.
"We like that particular location because our research showed most (domestic violence) came from that area," Mr. Colon said. "We are trying to open doors here in Deltona as we did years ago in Orlando."
He explained Nuevo Sendero is fully insured, gets client referrals from the sheriff's office, Department of Children and Families, churches and other organizations. He said there is no charge to clients, grants pay for counselors, and at least two people from the organization will be in the facility with clients to provide security.
"We've never had any security issues at any of our Orlando facilities," Mr. Colon said. "Honestly we've never had an issue with a victim's partner, not a call or threat."