City leaders are determined to clean up the community with their new program, “Blights out Bastrop.”

The program, which began Monday, Feb. 4, is a two-step process. The first part, taking place now, is the cleaning of overgrown and abandoned properties.

Owners of overgrown or blighted properties are first cited. People who are cited can face fines for not keeping up with city codes, but this program offers them a new choice in dealing with the problem. For a low fee, the city will send a crew to clean the property and bring it up to code.

"The idea is to keep people from being overwhelmed with getting their property in compliance with the codes and to make it affordable,” said Zoning and Code Enforcement Official Jay Blackmon-Williams.

People are also encouraged to call in about abandoned lots, which will be cleaned up as well.

The second part comes after the cleanup. Cleaned lots will be turned back over to owners, as well as churches and non-profit organizations, to take care of. From then on they will be expected to keep the properties up to code.

It is the hope of officials that the program will make the neighborhoods of Bastrop more attractive. They want to revitalize the community and make it an even better place for people to live.

“Our goal is to change the face of Bastrop,” Blackmon-Williams said.

Along with beautification, community leaders also look to lower crime and health hazards. It is hoped that cleaning up these overgrown lots will eliminate areas criminals use to escape police as well as nesting grounds for vermin, such as rats, which can find their way into nearby homes and spread diseases.

The program has already cleaned up three properties, and officials hope to start full force by the summer.

To report blighted property or to volunteer to bring your property into compliance, write to obw@cityofbastrop.com.