Neighborhoods urged to say 'no' to litterers

Posted 6/14/19

(Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of news stories about the worsening eyesore, and the health hazard, of litter in the Cleveland and Bradley County community).City Fields Executive …

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Neighborhoods urged to say 'no' to litterers


(Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of news stories about the worsening eyesore, and the health hazard, of litter in the Cleveland and Bradley County community).

City Fields Executive Director Dustin Tommey said residents of Cleveland should not tolerate littering, especially in their own neighborhoods.

“Everybody has to take ownership of their domain,” Tommey said.

Taking a break to speak with the Cleveland Daily Banner Thursday after a groundbreaking ceremony was held for a house that will be constructed on a vacant lot on Blythe Avenue, Tommey, who is leading the charge to revitalize the Blythe-Oldfield neighborhood in South Cleveland, said area residents should adopt a creed held by the Boy Scouts.

“People need to live by this: leave it cleaner than you found it,” Tommey said of neighborhood residents and outsiders who litter the area.

In fact, Tommey said members of the Boy Scouts will be coming soon to the Blythe-Bower area to help residents tidy up their neighborhood.

“We are going to partner with the Boy Scouts and have Tire Clean-up Day,” Tommey said. “We are also partnering with Santec, who will help dispose of the tires.”

Tommey said city residents need to stop treating the neighborhood as a dumping ground.

“There are hundreds of tires that people throw away here,” Tommey said. It’s an example of how people treat this area like a dumping ground. There are people who feel like it’s their right to do that.”

Tommey many of those dump tires and old furniture do not live in the neighborhood, but feel they can get away with it.

“They come from other areas of the city to dump tires,” Tommey said.

Cleveland Assistant City Manager Melinda Carroll said that while the city does not have staff members who are specifically assigned to look for littered areas, the city does depend on its workers to spot the areas while out on jobs.

“We don’t have a staff that specifically looks for litter, but our guys are out there daily, and when they are driving from point A to point B, they should report it when they see it,” Carroll said.

The city also works closely with Keep America Beautiful to fight littering.

Mayor Kevin Brooks also said the city is working closely with the organization.

“We are close partners with Keep America Beautiful and their affiliate here in Cleveland,” Brooks said. “We are doing everything we possibly can to fight littering. It continues to be a problem and we will continue to find solutions.”

On Thursday, Brooks said he was informed by Carroll that she was organizing volunteers to help pick up litter.

“Melinda Carroll told me she has partnered with a couple of groups for volunteer assistance on litter pickup,” Brooks said.

Brooks, who was also attending the groundbreaking held by City Fields and the Ocoee Region Builder’s Association, said he had seen a nearby litter-field creek while on a bus tour around the Blythe-Oldfield neighborhood prior to the groundbreaking ceremony.

“We just saw a creek that needs some attention,” Brooks said.  “I’m going to make a phone call and tell the staff, '“Let’s fix this creek.'”

Brooks also said that a litter-filled intersection mentioned by Cleveland Vice Mayor Avery Johnson during the City Council’s work session on Monday resulted in immediate action.

“The next morning, he received a text at 8.m., that it had been remedied,” Brooks said.

Brooks also praised the work done by Farfield Inn & Suites to keep Westside Drive clean. In April, hotel employees adopted the stretch of road as part of the “Adopt-a-Mile” program. He lauded their corporate responsibility and is hopeful more businesses will follow their example.

“They are the first business to adopt a mile in many years,” Brooks said. “Let’s not just keep America beautiful, but Cleveland beautiful."

Tricia Cox, general manager at Fairfield Suites & Inn, told the Banner that the inspiration for adopting the street where the hotel is located came from its employees who wanted to do something for the city, as well as for hotel guests.

Cox said the hotel hosts many “snowbirds” who stay at the hotel while journeying to warmer climates. She said hotel guests regularly want to walk to area restaurants after being cooped up in vehicles all day while driving on the interstate.

“They want to walk to Cracker Barrel, but we tell them it’s not safe to walk there because there are no sidewalks,” Cox said.

During a conversation with Brooks earlier this year about the need for sidewalks on Westside Drive, hotel employees realized the area would need to be litter free if the sidewalks are constructed and utilized by visitors.

“If we get sidewalks, we want the area to look nice,” Cox said.

As a result, hotel employees now work in a group several times a year to walk up and down Westside Drive to pick up litter. Their adopted street runs from 25th Street to Norman Chapel Road.

Cox said several hotel employees recently gathered to collect litter along Westside Drive.

“There were six of us who worked two hours,” Cox said, adding that they had filled six bags with collected litter.

As they approached Norman Chapel Road, which is near Cleveland State Community College, Cox said the number of discarded plastic water bottles and fast food sacks increased. Closer to 25th Street, she said hotel employees have encountered discarded diapers, as well as medical waste. Fortunately, they wear protective gloves. They also wear reflective vests to alert motorists to their presence.

Cox said they found an unusual item during one of their litter collection walks, which took place shortly after the Easter holiday.

“We found an Easter egg,” Cox said.

She said the egg had been colorfully decorated.

“It wasn’t a plastic egg,” Cox said while laughing at the memory. “It was a hard-boiled egg!”


(Next: A look at the problem of illegal tire dumping on privately owned property).


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