April 17, 2003

Chamber Of Commerce Approaches City About 'Spring Cleaning'

A number of members of the Memphis Area Chamber of Commerce were on hand for the April 10 meeting of the Memphis City Council to discuss cleaning up the town.

Dr. Harlo Donelson served as spokesman for the group, which expressed its concerns about trash, over-grown lawns and other problems that make the community a less beautiful place to live in or visit.

"We are here to ask what can be done as far as having things cleaned up around town," Donelson said. "There are vehicles, appliances and other unsightly messes here and there. What can we do to get these places cleaned up and make our town look better?"

Council members addressed a number of the issues. City ordinances prohibit the parking of unlicensed vehicles on the streets. However the laws gets a little tricky when dealing with such vehicles parked on private property.

"What some people consider junk, others consider prized possessions," stated Mayor Ron Alexander.

The way city law currently reads an adjoining landowner must sign an official complaint with the police department regarding any nuisance issues such as unkept yards or trash or debris. Even with a complaint the process is long and drawn out.

"If someone doesn't want to clean up their property it's almost impossible to make them do it," Alexander stated.

MACC president Jim Nishida-Adams asked what could be done to change the ordinances to make the laws tougher to prevent the city from having problem areas.

Newly elected Alderman Lucas Remley cautioned the gathering against moving too far in that direction.

"We have to be really careful in this area or it can snowball," he said. "You can't just say do this or else. We need to focus on how we can help these property owners clean up the trouble areas. We need to go to them and ask them what it will take to get these places cleaned up, not go to them with threatening new ordinances."

Mayor Alexander noted that the Northeast Missouri Solid Waste Management District is making significant efforts to help keep the community clean. He stated that more than $220,000 was spent last year in the six-county region to pay for tire pick-ups as well as appliance/white goods removal services.

He also indicated the organization is helping the city seek grant funds for clean-up of areas within city limits. The grants can be site specific or can target a neighborhood or city block and can provide funds to clean and repair residential areas or to pay for demolition and removal of dilapidated buildings.

The MACC members also made a request for continued city support of the group's Christmas decorations program.

The council voted 4-0 to once again purchase $500 in decorations to assist the MACC project.

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