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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Could the cleanliness of Downtown Wilmington sidewalks be hurting business? One business owner feels that way and says it’s time for a change.

Hunter Ford, who has owned Momentum for the last five years, says the problem along Front Street is bad, and only getting worse.

“I get down here to work, and although the streets and the sidewalks appear to be clean, all of the cigarette butts and the trash ends up in the planters,” Ford said. “A lot of the work that they have done with the Downtown Development Project, a lot of those plants and a lot of those trees have died, and they haven’t been replaced.”

The trash has gotten so bad that it is starting to affect his open door policy, which is designed to attract customers.

“Stuff blows in here all of the time,” Ford said. “If I leave my door open, I am guaranteed to have a few things blow in, and most of the time it’s cigarettes.”

While Ford says he feels the city does a good job cleaning the sidewalks, with such a small staff it is fighting a losing battle without the help of business owners.

“I’m out here every day sweeping and trying to keep my stuff up, but I wish some of the bars and the restaurants did a better job policing some of their areas,” Ford said. “I have a lot of people that come over from the restaurant that sit down and take a smoke break on my bench. That bench isn’t for people to sit and have a cigarette break, it’s for kids to stop and have a picture or to try and make downtown look better.”

While he feels there are a few quick fixes, he says the situation could only get worse before it gets better.

“I think they should pass out more littering tickets, but now that they put the taxi stand out front I have everyone standing here smoking waiting for a cab,” Ford said. “Thanks, city. Thanks.”

The city says while it does have a regular crew to clean the area, it needs more business owners like Ford to lend a hand.

Ford said he is contemplating a run for City Council to help improve not only downtown Wilmington, but the entire city.

Comment on this Story

  • Guestmarcs

    So the sidewalks are so clean they hurt business? The headline is the exact opposite of what the story is.

  • SurfCityTom

    all of those street entertainers? They seem to have so much free time on their hands during the day when they are not panhandling.

    Give them a trash bag, rubber gloves, and a pointed stick.

    Healthy exercise while performing a public service.

  • Guest234567

    I cannot believe how nasty all the sidewalks are in Wilmington. Grocery, retail store-fronts and parking lot areas all over town are dirty. Gum, chewing tobacco, cigarette butts, trash of all sorts and sometimes even diapers. Disgusting and sad. People seem to have lost interest in living in a nice place or have no commitment to doing their part. I was especially surprised to see the same problem starting on sidewalks in Mayfair, It’s a shame everywhere.

  • Vog46

    And if the rubber gloves, plastic bag and a pointed stick was worth $5 bucks they by $5 worth of drugs or booze with them.
    C’mon this is not an internment camp and the homeless are not free labor……(prisoners however are a different story)
    Back “in the day” shop owners who had the privilege of being in the shopping district down town took enough pride in their business to keep their own sidewalks clean.
    Mall stores socialize this task with their rent payments which subsidize cleaning crews and security. It would appear as though the down town merchants may want to get together and think of something.

    Why this sounds like a perfect job for the Chamber of Commerce and Hyphen-lady (Connie Majure-Rhett). Heck you could throw in WDI Wilmington Down Town Inc. too.
    They could have an “event” at the White Elephant to discuss this impediment to business success down town. Think of the power players – the CEO of the Chamber, the CEO of WDI, the CEO of the CC.
    Yeah, right – go to the government supported CC, talking about making the government clean the sidewalks for their businesses, using all our tax dollars.
    What has happened to going to work a few minutes early to make sure YOUR business looks good? What happened to doing what it takes? What happened to self sufficiency?


  • Wilmington Observer

    I think handing out “Littering Citations” is a fantastic idea. After a few weekends of, heavy, enforcement the word would spread and people would start taking responsibility for their own, polluting, butts. If those cited wished to go to court, instead of paying the fine, they could be given the option of community service hours consisting of picking up cigarette butts from the downtown sidewalks.

    Wilmington Observer

  • Das Weibstück

    This shop sells surfing and skate boarding items. Perhaps people aren’t spending as much on such nonessential items?

    Seriously doubt its because of ciggy butts. That is ludicrous.

  • Guestprogress

    This gets me every time…They plant new trees for aesthetics, which I love, BUT THEY DON’T WATER THEM… What’s the point? New trees need water to survive. It’s not rocket science…

  • Dunlin

    I walk downtown every morning. The city employees are always working away even very early – trying to clean up the mess from the night before. Making Front and Water Streets and Market Street/Princess Street(From 2nd Street to Water a public non-smoking area would help tremendously.

  • SurfCityTom

    this morning & had lunch at one of the restaurants.

    The only trash I saw was discarded cigarette butts.

    Not much you can do about those as long as some are happy to puff away and increase their chance for lung cancer.

    Of course, once O’Bama Care kicks in, smokers will pay a surcharge for health insurance.


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