Iowa City Downtown District pilot to consolidate waste

BY NICK HASSETT | MARCH 25, 2013 5:00 AM

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Officials hope a new pilot project by the Iowa City Downtown District will help local businesses cut costs by cutting trash.

The Alley Pilot Project Survey, which is being conducted by the district, targets businesses with access to certain alleys in Iowa City. The Iowa/Clinton/Washington/Dubuque back alley, which is private, and the Dubuque/Linn alley are the alleys that the district is focusing on for the project.

The project aims to consolidate garbage collection and recycling services beginning with those two areas.

A Downtown District official was unavailable for comment Sunday evening.

The deadline for the survey is Friday, and several local businesses have already taken the survey, according to the Downtown District’s website.

The survey asks businesses what company they use for garbage collection, what kind of receptacle they use for solid waste and recycling, whether they are happy with their solid-waste service, and if they are interested in composting, among other questions.

City Councilor Susan Mims thought the project was important to the city’s efforts to reduce waste.
“Certainly, all those efforts are worth exploring to save money and consolidate trash,” she said. “The more we can do to keep things out of the landfill, the better.”

Cody Haaf, the general manager of Blue Moose, 211 Iowa Ave., said while that establishment’s trash is not stored in the Dubuque/Linn alley, he would support the district’s program.

“I’d definitely take part [in the survey],” he said. “If they have a plan to clean everything up, that’s a good thing.”

Haaf said he had concerns with Dumpsters in alleys all over Iowa City and hoped the district’s project could help address them.

“In a larger aspect, there are people that drive through the alleys, and the Dumpsters take up space,” he said. “There are people looking through the Dumpsters and tossing stuff around, which adds to that.”

City Councilor Jim Throgmorton said the effort would have to come not just from businesses but alley users themselves.

“I think it probably can work if it’s a wholehearted, voluntary effort from businesses on the alleys and people who use them,” he said. “The biggest challenge is getting the users on board.”

Throgmorton thought the city had a wider opportunity with alleys as a whole.

“The interior spaces in the downtown area are a largely underutilized asset,” he said. “I’m encouraged by this initial effort.”

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