Kent still cleaning up after festival

By Diane Smith Published:

They also left vats of grease, assorted debris and stains on the sidewalk

that remained for days.

But festival organizers say they've taken steps to alleviate the problems

and make sure they don't happen again next year.

Rick Davis of Sue Nelson Designs said he arrived at the store early Saturday

to face debris, four vats of grease on the curb, and a stained sidewalk.

He removed an antique oriental rug, fearing it would be damaged when customers

tracked grease into the store. Then he called city hall.

``I asked who I should send the bill to,'' he said.

He said he was directed to the Kent United Services Organization and the

Kent Area Chamber of Commerce. But even after he made several calls, nothing

was done until he called Mayor Jerry Fiala and Councilwoman Aimee Lyle.

``I'm glad their festival was a big success,'' he said. ``But it's just

sad it took so many phone calls to take care of it.''

On Tuesday, a city street sweeper came to clean South Water Street, but

sidewalks weren't cleaned until Wednesday, when city crews cleaned sidewalks

in front of Sue Nelson Designs and two adjacent stores. However, the workers

didn't clean any other sidewalks on South Water Street.

Kent Service Director said the remaining sidewalks on South Water Street

were being cleaned this morning.

That upset Barbara Meeker of Kent Travel, who said the area outside her

office smelled like garbage when she opened Monday, and there were rib bones

and grease stains outside her door.

``It's a wonderful thing,'' she said of the festival. ``But someone needs

to clean up afterwards.''

Not all business owners in the area of the food court were unhappy. Dennis

Andrei, owner of Kent Jewelry, said his store was open for the festival,

and there were no problems during the event or after.

``I came back here on Sunday, and the street looked clean to me,'' he said.

Laura Skupski of the Kent Area Chamber of Commerce said when she received

calls, she immediately visited the businesses and talked to them about their

concerns. She said the chamber and KUSO members are working to resolve the

complaints, and plan to bring a jet spray downtown to clean sidewalks.

Skupski said the problems were a result of a misunderstanding among food

vendors and an overwhelming crowd for the task force hired to clean up trash

downtown. The contractors, she said, were expecting a turnout similar to

that of last year's festival. Instead, she said, the crowd was larger, arrived

earlier and stayed later.

The vats of grease were left by a vendor who incorrectly assumed because

contractors were hauling away trash, the grease would be disposed of as

well, Skupski said.

She said committee chairmen Tom Montoni and Brad Patterson spent two hours

after the festival picking up debris. Next year, she said, festival organizers

plan to take steps to assure vendors clean up after themselves.

``We understand their concerns,'' she said. ``No one wants the business

owners to be unhappy. But many of the business owners I talked to were very

happy. They said business was booming and we should have more festivals.''

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