|As a non-smoker I admit that I was glad when Ohio adopted the ban on indoor smoking in bars and restaurants. On the downside, I’ve noticed more problems with cigarette butts being tossed along the sidewalks outside the bars where patrons go to smoke which puts more stress on the business owner and the city to come up with ways to keep their establishments looking good. One thing more of our Kent bar owners are doing is creating more outdoor, patio style seating, which allows smoking patrons an area to smoke. The outoor seating is a great amenity that I know will help pull even more people downtown, and it should help keep the cigarette butts on site. On the city side, I’ve been trying to convince our Public Service Director and Main Street Manager to consider buying a mini-sidewalk cleaner. I’ve had them in my other cities and they work great for a lot of different functions. Here’s an article from the Beacon that shows how Akron is using one.
As a point of reference, the cities I worked in used a different model than Akron’s that you’ll see below. We purchased a competitor’s unit call the “Mad Vac”. I prefer the Mad Vac because it’s a little more compact and manoeverable up and down curbs and sidewalks. Click here to watch a video of one in action.
Man brightens days
|Downtown pedestrians can’t help but take a liking to friendly driver of sidewalk sweeper|
|May 17, 2007|
|Kim Hone-McMahan, Beacon Journal staff writer|
|The machine that Darrell Stamps is driving looks like a scorpion. The two brushes, that extend out front, could be claws. The headlights — eyes. As it crawls on the sidewalks on Akron’s Main Street, it gobbles up dirt and cigarette butts.
“This is my baby,” he says about the Applied 424-HS Hi-Speed Green Machine, which is really silver.
Stamps is the supervisor of Operation Neat Streets, a Downtown Akron Partnership sidewalk sweeping program. He and two other employees are referred to as “ambassadors.” That’s because, in addition to cleaning up dirt, they answer questions, give directions and make our days a little brighter.
Stamps nods at strangers and familiar faces as he maneuvers the Goliath-sized machine around poles, curbs and stairs. When he smiles, deep dimples form on his cheeks — just below his very cool sunglasses.
He passes women in business suits, a group of Amish men in straw hats and a sloppy-looking dude asking for spare change. He’s been asked for money so often that he replies “no” before the question is even completed. One guy, whom Stamps recognized as a regular panhandler, once toted a gas can, pleading for money to buy gas. (Got to give him credit for creativity.)
With the exception of a couple of years living in Kent while he went to college and six years in the service, Stamps has lived most of his 48 years in Akron. When asked about the city, he seems to sit taller in his machine. He’s proud of Akron, which he said has improved in appearance over the past few years.
When the trash is too large or difficult to reach with his sweeper, he retrieves it with his glove-covered hands or with a grabber tool.
The filthiest areas are around trash cans. He assumes people throw garbage at the can, but ignore it if it falls short of the target.
In April, he and his colleagues collected 5,022 gallons of trash from the sidewalks. Though he doesn’t offer it, when asked, he admitted believing that people are slobs.
“It’s job security, though,” he said, laughing.
It’s lunchtime, and the sidewalks are busy on this brilliantly sunny day. The smell of something yummy spills from Serpico’s Italian Eatery.
Stamps is the single father of three — a son in the Army who has served twice in Iraq; a son at Miami University studying forensic medicine; and a 16-year-old daughter at East High School.
He said some of the young folks milling around downtown lack respect. That’s evident when a group of teenagers near a bus shelter refuse to move for him.
Still, he doesn’t let that bother him. He continues to greet everyone with a smile and a kind word.
“Did you see any papers on the ground?” a young man asked. He has apparently lost something official.
“No, but with this wind, they could already be blocks away.”
Stamps is a good-looking guy and is somewhat embarrassed when asked if women ever hit on him when he’s working.
“Sometimes,” he said. “But I’m supposed to be happy and friendly, so I smile, giggle and joke with them.”
As he scoots along, a woman sitting on a bench shouted:
“Boy, that’s nice!”
She’s talking about the metal scorpion.