Iowa City's downtown dirty after lots of melting - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa City's downtown dirty after lots of melting

IOWA CITY (KWWL) - The warm weather this past weekend revealed some of the grass underneath, which was a welcome change of pace for many people. But it also uncovered a lot of trash, cigarette butts and dog droppings in Iowa City's downtown area.

"It's pretty dirty," said University of Iowa junior Ashley Trumbo. "I've been biking around and it kind of looks like a wasteland out here sometimes."

The city's Parks and Forestry Division is in charge of keeping this section of Iowa City clean, and they say it's a challenge every spring, but that it's worse this year because of some key factors.

This year's winter dumped a lot of snow, and when litter is dropped into the snow, it mixes around as it's pushed off the streets and sidewalks.

"It looks tough a lot of times," said Terry Robinson, the department superintendent. His staff were out in force Monday morning trying to get a head start on cleaning in and around the pedestrian mall. He says a high concentration of people in that area usually equals a high concentration of trash.

UI junior Dominic Emery has noticed an increase in cigarette butts on his walk to class. "I don't think people should be considering the snow as a place to throw their cigarettes."

Robinson says that's one negative side effect of the state's indoor smoking ban. Once a filter is thrown to the ground, he says it can stay there for a long time, since they're small and made out of materials that don't decompose. Sweeping them all up has added to his department's workload.

"It's added anywhere from 15 minutes to a half an hour each day onto the cleaning process."

Robinson's also noticed an increase in dog droppings left downtown.

He's hesitant to put "mutt mit" dispensers along sidewalks, because some people are abusing the privelege at city parks.

Robinson says the city spent about $11,000 on those mutt mits last year, which was a little more than expected.

The fine for littering in Iowa City ranges from $70 to $300, and the fine for not picking up after your dog starts at $10, and can go as high as $100 for subsequent offenses.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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