Saturday, May 26, 2001

City's first car cleanup nets 300, mostly junk

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The recent success of the first Operation Clean Sweep, which removed almost 300 abandoned and illegally parked cars from Cincinnati streets, could mean twice-annual sweeps in years to come.

        City Councilwoman Alicia Reece, who pushed for the program along with Mayor Charlie Luken, expects to propose another sweep for the fall and another in the following months. The future sweeps would last two weeks and, if continued, would keep unsightly cars to a minimum, she said.

        “Our goal was to get the number under control and maintain it. We just need to keep the focus going,” she said.

    To report abandoned or illegally parked cars, call 564-2277 or a local police district: District 1, 352-3505; 2, 979-4400; 3, 352-3574; 4, 352-3576; or 5, 352-3578.
        The recent sweep began March 9 and concluded April 6. In the five-week period, police officers made a concerted effort to ticket abandoned and illegally parked cars and left an orange sticker on them after 48 hours. Tow trucks removed the cars on Fridays if they remained.

        In total, 294 cars were removed from city streets. The bulk of them, 257, were deemed junk and hauled to the Cincinnati Police Impoundment Lot on Spring Grove Avenue in Camp Washington. The other cars were crushed at Town & Country Ford Parts, a junkyard in New Baltimore. Another 100 cars were removed by owners notified of the sweep.

        Avondale and Westwood were especially blighted by abandoned and illegally parked cars, Ms. Reece said. One car towed from an Avondale street had been there for three years. Another vehicle, parked on a Winton Place street, had been torched, she said.

        Still, the number collected fell far short of the 1,000 cars that Ms. Reece originally said would be removed from city streets. But the awareness raised made up for the numbers, she said.

        “The first goal was to educate people about parking on streets (and) we did a great deal of educating,” she said.

        Pete Whitte of the Price Hill Civic Club supports her vigilance. As club president for the past three years, he fields several calls a year from residents complaining about unsightly cars parked on their streets.

        The recent sweep made a marked improvement, he said. Yet he believes more than two sweeps a year are needed.

        “I don't think that's enough,” he said. “Litter begets litter. Quarterly would be better.”

        Acting Public Safety Director S. Gregory Baker doesn't know how many sweeps ultimately will occur. But he expects that they're bound to stay.

        The sweep “allowed us to handle the backlog,” he said. “This is something we'll do periodically.”


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