Saturday, March 10, 2001

City begins sweep of abandoned cars

Goal: 1,000 eyesores off public roads

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        For two days, the white Nissan sat near the intersection of Derby and Mellwood avenues in Winton Place, its interior destroyed by fire.

        On Friday, the kickoff of Operation Clean Sweep, City Councilwoman Alicia Reece joined a police officer and tow truck driver while they removed the eyesore from the residential neighborhood.

        “When you see cars like this, it's unbelievable. It's definitely a safety and health problem,” said Ms. Reece, wearing an Operation Clean Sweep T-shirt. “We're not going to let the abandoned cars take over our neighborhoods.”

        Operation Clean Sweep is the brainchild of Ms. Reece and Mayor Charlie Luken. They hope to have 1,000 abandoned or illegally parked cars towed.

        Collections will happen every Friday through April 6. On Operation Clean Sweep's first day, 24 tow trucks collected more than 50 broken-down, unregistered and beat-up cars.

        Most were hauled to Town & Country Ford Parts, a junkyard in New Baltimore, to be crushed. Others were towed to the Cincinnati Police impoundment lot. Police give owners a chance to reclaim the vehicles before deciding whether to auction these cars.

        Ms. Reece rode along with Steve Pershon of Mike Kaeser Towing in Westwood. A police officer led the way to the 1100 block of Sunset Avenue in Price Hill, their first stop.

        She plans to head out with police and tow truck drivers on the remaining Fridays, too.

        “The first thing we want to do is get this under control. We want to be responsive,” she said.

        Mr. Pershon, the tow truck driver, believes thinks Operation Clean Sweep is a good idea. He sees a lot of abandoned cars in his line of work. But it's rare that he removes any, he said.

        A woman who lives on Mellwood Avenue didn't want to give her name, but she was happy to see the removal of the burnt-burned-out car towed. Still, she wonders whether Operation Clean Sweep will work.

        “I have my doubts,” she said. “You're always going to have old cars on the streets.”

        Citizens who want to report abandoned or illegally parked cars can call 564-CARS (564-2277) or their local police district: District 1, 352-3505; 2, 979-4400; 3, 352-3574; 4, 352-3576; or 5, 352-3578.

        Callers should have the license plate number and the exact street address.

        Officers will tag the vehicle and try to notify its owner. The vehicle could be towed after 48 hours.


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