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Iowa City sees spike in gameday trash

BY STACEY MURRAY | SEPTEMBER 26, 2012 6:30 AM

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Outside Kinnick Stadium, Melrose Avenue is taking a hit.

With four-consecutive home games this month, the Extend the Dream Foundation noticed a 15 percent increase in trash levels on Melrose Avenue and Melrose Court.

The It was terrible during the [Iowa State] game,” said Tom Walz, director of the Extend the Dream Foundation. “We could hardly keep up.”

Walz’s foundation works in cooperation with the University of Iowa’s Office of Sustainability, Iowa City, and the Hawkeye Athletics Department in a partnership to clean up Melrose Avenue during and after each home game. This is the second year of the contract.

Iowa City pays the foundation $400 per game to pick up the trash, and ut also provides $450 in supplies — including trash bags and rubber bands. With seven home games this fall, the cleanup will cost $2,400 plus the additional $450 in supplies, said Stan Laverman of Iowa City housing inspection.

The foundation uses the $400 to pay five to six disabled employees, helping them earn incomes, Walz said.

The money paid to the foundation comes from a general fund for Iowa City, but vendors pay the city $2,000 in fees, helping to replenish the costs for cleanup.

The in-state rivalry games bring in thousands of fans and created mounds of trash for the Extend the Dream Foundation to pick up. Walz said during a typical game, the foundation sets out 50 cans every 40 feet, covering a span of nearly half a mile.

Each can has an extra bag underneath. For the Iowa-Iowa State game, the foundation set out eight extra trashcans to accommodate the vast amounts of garbage, collecting more than 108 bags of garbage, he said.

“The first home game with Iowa State seemed to be a challenge because of the traffic in the area,” said Liz Christiansen, the director of the UI Office of Sustainability. ”But I think it has worked again this year.”

The three-consecutive home games have allowed the foundation to compare trash levels for these sporting events, and Doug Boothroy, the director of building inspection said opponents aren’t always the reason for the heaps of trash.

The trash accumulated during mid-afternoon games is greater than during the morning games because of the time people spend tailgating, Boothroy said. The fans start tailgating at the same time, regardless of kickoff and therefore create more trash during the afternoon games.

Walz said the foundation had four times as much trash during each of the in-state rivalry games, compared with the morning Central Michigan game, but this can be attributed to the kickoff time and the opponent, he said.

“It depends on which are your home games,” the 79-year-old director said.

While the trash is piling up, Walz said, in general, Melrose Ave. is cleaning up nicely — maybe because of a guilt trip.

“I think the neighbors see a 79-year-old man picking up college kids’ beer cans and they feel a little guilty,” he said. “They’re picking up a little more than usual.”


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