Archive for Sunday, May 2, 1999

VOLUNTEERS LEND HAND FOR DOWNTOWN CLEANUP

May 2, 1999

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Downtown was swept clean Saturday morning.

Armed with bags and brooms, 29 people scoured the streets for trash and swept the sidewalks as part of the "Downtown Springtime Spruce Up" organized by Downtown Lawrence Inc.

"Our goal was to pick up all the litter and sweep as much as we can," Sarah Fayman, the group's president, said. Cleaning up downtown makes it more appealing right away, she said.

Fayman was working her way down the west side of the 900 block of Massachusetts, in front of her store, Sarah's Fabrics.

"I want to finish our block," she said, sweeping up piles of cigarette butts and dirt. She hadn't found any change, but she had found a full bottle of liquor.

"I'm astounded by the cigarette butts," she said.

Marcia McFarlane, administrator of Downtown Lawrence Inc., said she was learning a lot about the people who come downtown. They're a healthy lot, she said -- volunteers found twice as many fruit peels as candy wrappers.

But plenty of litterbugs leave an impression. There were also bottles, disposable dishes and, of course, the ever-present cigarette butts.

The cleanup day was conceived of by the DLI board of directors. DLI wants to market downtown as an attraction -- a place to come spend a day. Toward that end, they want to make sure the area is putting its best foot forward.

"No. 1 on the list was to clean it up," McFarlane said.

Mayor Erv Hodges, as well as several other city officials, stopped by to help.

"It looks like the 700 block needs help," Hodges said, grabbing trash bags. "Give me two."

A little farther down the street, Maria Martin from Southwest and More, Melodie Christal from Savannah Lingerie and Anne Yetman from The Bay Leaf were sweeping in front of their stores.

"I'd do it once a month if we could get more people," Christal said.

The other two agreed.

"On a day like this, it's actually fun," Yetman said. Except for the cigarette butts -- they were everywhere.

"There should be a city ordinance against throwing cigarette butts in the street," Martin said.

"We're going to make citizen's arrests," Yetman said.

McFarlane said the day was a success. The hope, she said, is to make downtown cleanup a regular event. She'd like to see organizations adopt blocks, much like they do strips of highway.

"One block will keep you busy on a Saturday morning," she said. Any groups interested in volunteering should call the DLI office.

"The city's doing their part; the merchants are doing their part," McFarlane said. Now she wants visitors to downtown to do theirs.

"Next time you go to throw out your can, your cigarette, your banana peel, your receipt -- please think about who's going to pick it up," she said.

-- Felicia Haynes' phone message number is 832-7173. Her e-mail address is fhaynes@ljworld.com.

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