After the party, Fargo's 'puke patrol' does the dirty work


Have you ever wondered who cleans up city streets after a weekend of too much partying?

In Fargo, North Dakota, it used to be up to individual businesses to cleanup the litter, cigarette butts and vomit patrons left behind – but many didn't do so, InForum News says.

Now, employees with the Downtown Business Improvement District (BID)'s clean team are tasked with sweeping, shampooing and pressure washing the litter and vomit off the sidewalks – and it's become an important job because of the city's thriving night life.

In 2013, the Downtown Community Partnership (DCP), a nonprofit that promotes both Fargo and Moorhead, Minnesota, developed North Dakota's first BID to clean, maintain and promote the city.

But until three months ago, the BID didn't clean up the streets, according to the DCP's website.

Amy Nash, the district's sustainability coordinator, told InForum that a rise in alcohol consumption, the increasing popularity of downtown bars and large city events have contributed to a bigger mess in downtown Fargo in recent months.

She told the newspaper that Fargo has a "big vomit problem because of the city's affinity for drinking as a way to celebrate." Earlier this year, the city was named America's drunkest city by the website Bustle, which based its list on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Every week, members of the clean team patrol for puke and other trash. Terry Cromwell, who helps keep the city's streets clean, told InForum she wishes people were more aware of their actions, but says she's heard many compliments about BID's efforts.

“I take pride in my work, so at least someone’s noticing,” she said.

Cleaning up vomit isn't an easy task. If vomit – which contains sidewalk-staining bile – isn't removed quickly enough it can discolor concrete, InForum notes. When winter comes, it makes the cleanup more difficult – often times it's frozen by the time crews find it.

Reasons like these prompted one Wisconsin town to make puking in public illegal. River Falls City Council approved the law in May, which includes a penalty of however much it costs the city to clean up the public space as a result of the public display of yakking.

Searches for public vomiting laws in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth and Bemidji turned up no results (multiple terms such as vomit and barfing were attempted). In addition, a Sterling Codifiers statewide search also came up empty. The term “urination” returned numerous results in all searches.

However, more than 1,000 cities in the United States have business improvement districts, or something similar, in which they employ people to keep the city's streets clean.

Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District has employees who clean vomit and litter off the city streets, among other responsibilities.

Minneapolis' DID is currently conducting a perception survey, which asks questions about the cleanliness and safety of the city's streets. Click here to fill it out. Results from last year's survey are at left, or here.

Duluth also has a clean and safe team. The employees empty trash cans, collect litter, remove graffiti and care for plants. Last summer, the city added a cleaning position that focused primarily on removing cigarette butts from the sidewalks, according to a monthly report.

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