Property Maintenance

Neighborhood Clean-Up Events

By helping to keep public places looking attractive, volunteer clean-up events organized by neighborhood associations reflect pride in Madison’s neighborhoods. In addition, clean-up events are a great way to bring neighborhood residents together and build lasting relationships for neighborhood improvements.

By contacting the Parks Division’s Outreach Coordinator at least three weeks in advance of your planned clean-up date, you can organize clean-up events for public areas in your neighborhood. Volunteer clean-up activities can include trash, recyclables, leaf, and brush collection as well as approved weeding and trimming tasks. The Outreach Coordinator will help you obtain loaned equipment from the Parks Division (such as rakes, gloves, and bags for trash and recycling) as well as Streets Division assistance including “lugger bins” for collecting and hauling away debris. All volunteers must sign a Parks Division release form. The Parks Division collects names of clean-up volunteers in preparation for the annual Parks Volunteer Recognition Ceremony.

How To Get Started:

“I can’t believe we did all this in three hours,” said Chet Hermansen, gazing with both amazement and pride at the results of the April 1996 Northside spring clean-up event he helped organize. Towering piles of brush and countless bags of trash and recyclables awaited collection by the Streets Division. Several roadside tree beds glowed with tons of fresh mulching provided by the Parks Division and spread by volunteers. Over fifty smiling volunteers took off their gloves and wiped their brows on their way to the nearby Esquire Club for a pancake fundraiser. Co-sponsored by the Northside Business Association and the Brentwood Village-Packers- Sherman Neighborhood Steering Committee, the clean-up fundraiser was organized to beautify the Packers/Aberg intersection – a gateway to Madison’s north side – while also raising funds for a neighborhood sign at the intersection. Esquire Club owner Jim Kavanaugh donated all of the pancake proceeds to the neighborhood sign. “It’s the least I can do,” said Kavanaugh, “to reward the kind of community spirit I have seen today. I know that community vitality and business vitality are inseparable, so I am proud to support the improvement goals of local neighborhood associations.” Overjoyed by the turn-out and commitment of volunteers, event organizers plan to make the clean-up fundraiser an annual event.

v     Identify clean-up area(s) and event date. Identify clean-up area(s), such as a park, a street segment, or other areas. Identify a non-holiday weekend date for your clean-up event. 

v     Identify ways to enhance clean-up event. There are many possible ways to enhance your clean-up event with additional activities, such as a picnic or softball game, where participants can socialize after cleaning up. You can also coordinate fundraising activities with a clean-up event – for example, organizing a fundraiser meal and donating proceeds to a neighborhood improvement.

v     Prepare clean-up event plan. Prepare an event plan that identifies: 1) clean-up tasks; 2) how you will organize volunteers; 3) how you will collect Parks Division-loaned equipment at the end of your event; and 4) how you will ensure that Parks Division release forms are signed by volunteers. It is helpful to identify event leaders to be responsible for these tasks on clean-up day.

v     Contact the Parks Outreach Coordinator. At least three weeks in advance of your planned clean-up event, submit a map of clean-up area(s), a description of clean-up activities, and a list of equipment needs to the Parks Outreach Coordinator. The Outreach Coordinator will review your plan, arrange equipment loans from the Parks Division, coordinate with Streets Division as necessary, and identify appropriate debris pick-up sites (where the Streets and/or Parks Divisions can collect trash, recyclables, leaves, and brush). 

v     Publicize clean-up event. To maximize volunteer turn-out, make sure that you publicize your clean-up event in several ways – advertisements in neighborhood newsletters and local newspapers, fliers posted at all public places in your neighborhood, letters and phone calls to business and community leaders, and announcements at worship services and other community meetings. If possible, recruit one volunteer per block to go door-to-door shortly before your clean-up event to provide a final reminder.

v     Coordinate Parks release form sign-up at event. Signing a Parks Division release form is a volunteer participation requirement. Set up a sign-up point for arriving volunteers and also distribute additional release forms to event leaders. You may also want a registration sheet for your own purposes, perhaps as a contact list for future clean-up events and other neighborhood activities. 

v     Return release forms to the Outreach Coordinator. The Parks Division uses release sign-up forms to create a list of volunteers who are recognized at the Parks Division’s annual Volunteer Recognition Ceremony.

v     Evaluate clean-up event. To improve future clean-up events, identify the parts of your event plan that worked well and those that could be improved.

v     Celebrate accomplishments. Recognize volunteers, perhaps by listing their names in neighborhood publications. Bring cameras to take “before-and-after” pictures and capture volunteers in action improving their neighborhood. Schedule future clean-up events to follow up on your success, perhaps establishing annual events to make community clean-ups a regular part of your neighborhood’s social fabric.


Laura Prindle, Outreach Coordinator

Parks Division

City County Building, Rm. 104

210 Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd.

Madison, WI 53703

Phone: 266-5949 Fax: 267-1162


Graffiti Removal

Graffiti left unattended often invites more graffiti. The best way to combat graffiti problems in your neighborhood is to remove graffiti as soon as it is noticed. The City of Madison’s graffiti reporting and removal program leads to prompt removal of graffiti through cooperation between the City, affected property owners, and concerned citizens.

Your neighborhood association can often resolve graffiti problems at the neighborhood level by notifying property owners of graffiti; providing them with information on the City’s Co-Pay Graffiti Removal Program; and offering volunteer assistance for graffiti removal. If neighborhood efforts are unsuccessful, report graffiti to the appropriate City agency. Graffiti reporting procedures depend on whether the graffiti is on private or public property.

Graffiti Removal on Private Property

Private property owners are responsible for removing graffiti on their property – including single-family homes, apartment buildings, and business establishments – and are eligible for financial assistance through the City’s Co-Pay Graffiti Removal Program. 

Co-Pay Graffiti Removal Program. The City’s Co-Pay Graffiti Removal Program operates on a first-come, first-serve basis until annually authorized funds are exhausted. Under the program, property owners pay a non-refundable $100 application fee per removal project and City funds cover all removal expenses. Removal is performed by a subcontractor selected through a City bidding process.

How To Get Started:

v     Inform property owner of graffiti. If you notice graffiti on private property, notify the property owner of the graffiti; explain the availability of financial assistance through the City’s Co-Pay Graffiti Removal Program; and allow the property owner a reasonable amount of time to have the graffiti removed before contacting City staff.

v     Offer volunteer assistance or volunteer resource information. Many persons, including seniors and persons with disabilities, may have difficulty performing graffiti removal work. As part of your initial contact with the property owner, you may wish to offer volunteer assistance through your neighborhood association or refer the property owner to potential sources of volunteer assistance. 

v     Contact the Building Inspection Unit. If initial contacts with the property owner are unsuccessful, report graffiti to the Building Inspection Unit. Reports should include the address as well as a brief description of the specific type and location of the graffiti (i.e., paint on the side of a building). The Building Inspection Unit will issue an official notice to the property owner requiring that the graffiti be removed by a specified date and providing information on the Co-Pay Graffiti Removal Program.

Commonly Asked Questions:

Q:  What is graffiti?

A:  Graffiti refers to a wide range of vandalism, including any unauthorized writing, drawing, inscription, or other marking on a visible surface on public or private property.

Q:  Does graffiti removal require professional assistance?

A:  No. Many forms of graffiti can be removed by property owners themselves with simple and inexpensive materials and procedures. Especially for property owners who repeatedly confront graffiti problems, do-it-yourself methods are the cheapest. If professional graffiti removal services are necessary, property owners may choose to utilize the Co-Pay Graffiti Removal Program to reduce costs.


Building Inspection Division

Municipal Building, Rm. LL-100

215 Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd.

Madison, WI 53703

Phone: 266-4551 Fax: 266-6377


Graffiti Removal on Public Property

Through the City’s Graffiti Hotline, the Public Works Department responds to reports of graffiti on public property or on structures (such as vending machines, utilities equipment, and telephone poles) located on public property.

How To Get Started:

v     Call the Graffiti Hotline. To report graffiti on public property or on structures located on public property, call the Graffiti Hotline at 266-4620. Reports should include the address as well as a brief description of the specific type and location of the graffiti (i.e., paint on the side of a building).


Graffiti Hotline: 266-4620

Recycling and Collection Services

The Streets Division operates a variety of collection services for trash, brush, yard waste, and recyclable materials on a year-round, seasonal, and special-occasion basis. Your neighborhood association can help keep the City of Madison clean while also conserving valued resources by providing collection and recycling information to neighborhood residents and helping residents collect materials and get them to curbside or drop-off sites for collection. 

How To Get Started:

v     Provide information on City collection services. Neighborhood residents may not be aware of the wide range of collection services provided by the City of Madison. Utilize neighborhood publications to expand knowledge of these services.

v     Encourage neighborhood residents to recycle. The Streets Division can provide extensive information on the benefits of recycling that your neighborhood association can provide in neighborhood publications. In addition, your neighborhood association can organize neighborhood clean-up events with assistance from the Streets and Parks Divisions.

v     Welcome new neighbors with collection information. Especially in neighborhoods with high resident turnover, neighborhood associations can provide a valuable service by informing new residents about City collection services and schedules.

v     Provide and/or organize volunteer assistance for collecting yard waste and recyclables. Many persons, including seniors and persons with disabilities, may need assistance with collecting their yard waste and/or recyclables and with getting these materials to curbside or to drop-off sites for City collection. Find out who these persons are and try to connect them with volunteers.

Commonly Asked Question:

Q:  Does the City collect appliances and old furniture?

A:  Yes. Appliances are collected for a fee: $20 for large appliances such as washers, refrigerators, and air conditioners; $10 for smaller appliances such as microwaves and garbage disposals. Fees are collected through stickers available at all Madison Public Libraries, from the Streets Division, and from the City Treasurer’s Office. There is no charge for collection of electronic equipment such as televisions, stereos, and computers; small appliances such as toasters and vacuum cleaners; or old furniture. Furniture and appliances are collected on the day of or day after regular refuse (trash) collection.


George Dreckmann, Streets Division 267-2626


East:     4602 Sycamore Avenue

                        Madison, WI 53704

                        Phone: 246-4532

                        Fax: 246-5804



West:   1501 W. Badger Road

                        Madison, WI 53713

                        Phone: 266-4681

                        Fax: 267-1120


City Collection Service Information

Madisonpride Recyclopedia. Detailed information on City collection services can be found in the Madisonpride Recyclopedia, available from the Streets Division.

Recyclables for Regular Curbside Pick-Up. Paper products can be tied in bundles or placed in bags by type (newspapers, corrugated cardboard, brown paper bags, and magazines and catalogs). Glass, metal, and plastic containers must be placed in Madisonpride recycling bags (glass bottles and jars, aluminum cans, tin/steel food cans, and selected plastic containers marked with “1” or “2” recycling symbols). Information on additional recyclable materials (including appliances and hazardous materials) is available from the Streets Division. 

Refuse Collection. The Streets Division collects refuse (household trash) weekly in all City neighborhoods. Properly contained refuse must be placed at curbside by 6 a.m. (East) or 7 a.m. (West) on your neighborhood’s weekly refuse collection day.

Brush Collection and Drop-Off Sites. From April through October, the Streets Division collects brush monthly on a scheduled basis in all City neighborhoods. For collection purposes, brush is defined as tree or shrub trimmings no less than 18 inches in length and no more than 8 feet in length or 8 inches in diameter. In addition to brush collection services, two brush drop-off sites are open year-round from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.: 1501 W. Badger Road and 4602 Sycamore Avenue.

Yard Waste Drop-Off Sites. For collection purposes, yard waste means leaves, grass clippings, flowers, plant stalks, vines, small twigs, and tree or shrub trimmings smaller than the brush dimensions described above. Except for Spring and Fall leaf collections, the Streets Division does not collect yard waste. Instead, yard waste must be dropped off at one of three City Drop-Off Sites: 1501 W. Badger Road; 4602 Sycamore Avenue; and 725 Forward Drive. These City Drop-Off Sites are open from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Monday-Friday, and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. 

Fall and Spring Leaf and Yard Waste Collection. To accommodate seasonal needs, the Streets Division provides all City neighborhoods with special leaf and yard waste collections in the Spring and Fall. Spring collections are usually in April. Fall collections occur in three rounds between early October and early December. Collection schedules are published in newspapers and are also available from the Streets Division.


Return to Table of Contents

Continue to Next Section