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.