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Local tourism official on glut of litter downtown: 'Some people are pigs'

Someone on social media Saturday dubbed it the "Waste of Country."

You could find it everywhere between Michigan Avenue and Franklin Street Saturday morning.

Half-eaten taco salad. Jello shots. Empty liquor bottles. Pizza boxes. And beer cans.

That was some of the trash presumably left behind by concertgoers at Friday evening's Taste of Country music festival at Coca-Cola Field.

"It's just really rude and unfortunate," Patrick Kaler, the president and CEO of Visit Buffalo Niagara told The Buffalo News Saturday. "Some people are pigs."

What's more, the mess left behind near Buffalo's emerging entertainment district came during a busy, and important, week for the city:

  • Hundreds of environmental advocates from across the world — including Waterkeeper's president Robert F. Kennedy Jr. — were in the city Friday night for the organization's global conference.
  • The University at Buffalo's International Glaciological Society's 2018 Symposium brought top climate researchers from across the world to Buffalo this week and wrapped up Friday.
  • The 61st annual Allentown Art Festival began Saturday.
  • Blocks away, the 2018 Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure was being held at Buffalo RiverWorks.

Jill Jedlicka, the executive director of Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, pointed out that litter and waste inevitably wind up in nearby rivers and lakes.

"This most recent occurrence is even more heartbreaking as we are hosting 300 of the world's leading water advocates to our community," Jedlicka said. "Many of these visitors are volunteering their time and energy in a service project today to help us clean up trash and debris from hard to reach areas of our local waterways."

"Stewardship begins with our own citizens, as there is not always going to be someone else around to clean up our mess," Jedlicka added.

Earlier Saturday, a line of cars on the way to Saturday's race crept past parking lots strewn with debris near Michigan and Scott Streets.

"It is disturbing when we are trying to show off the city in the best possible light," Kaler said. "It's just carelessness of a few people that makes the city look bad."

By the looks of it, there were more than a few litterbugs.

A trail of debris coated parking lots from Michigan Avenue, to Washington Avenue, Exchange Street, Upper Terrace and Pearl Street as late as the noon-hour Saturday.

Steve Stepniak, Buffalo's commissioner of public works, said the city does what it can — sweeping the streets downtown on Saturday and Sunday mornings as early as 6:30 a.m. — but it can't legally cleanup private parking lots.

"When it's in private lots, there's nothing we can do," Stepniak said. "We can go after them, if there are a number of complaints at a particular lot."

He added: "We do take it seriously down there."

City officials added that, in the future, they could take action against parking lot owners who don't keep their lots clean.

Kaler said that city officials, the event promoters and parking lot owners do what they can, but the impetus needs to be on those visiting downtown to be respectful and clean up after themselves.

Officials at Townsquare Media — owner of Taste of Country organizer, Country 106.5 WYRK-FM — said they're evaluating the situation.

"We will continue to bring great events to our city for everyone to enjoy," said Mark Plimpton, market president of Townsquare Buffalo. "As we do with all of our events we will recap and discuss any changes that will improve the experience for our fans and the community."


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