TRAVERSE CITY — Overflowing trash cans, littered beaches and dirty bathrooms — that's the not-so-pretty side of a community jam-packed with summer tourists and festivals.
Some Traverse City officials wonder how, indeed if, they can effectively manage the mountains of refuse amid staff cutbacks in an era of tighter government budgets.
Garbage began to pile up around beachfront and downtown trash cans during the National Cherry Festival and the problem hasn't dissipated, said Steve Constantin, chairman of the city's Downtown Development Authority.
"We walk the downtown every day and get to see what's going on," Constantin said. "It's like 'give me a pickup truck' so I can empty some of these trash cans.
"We're a million dollar city and we should look that way," he said.
City officials snipped a ribbon to open the new Clinch Park pavilion on June 25, and less than eight hours later the women's bathroom was littered with trash and several stalls had run out of toilet paper. The situation hasn't improved much since then, said Brian Haas, chairman of the city Parks and Recreation Commission.
On July 4, the new bathrooms were sans toilet paper by 4 p.m. and The River, which operates the food concession at the pavilion, bought $90 worth of toilet paper for the city, Haas said. That supply was gone by 10 p.m.
"It's not just Clinch; we get complaints about all the bathrooms," Haas said.
Early July 5 a city worker used his smart phone to videotape a fiery sunrise as he rode the city's beach groomer along the shores of West Bay. His camera also showed a beach littered with cups, beer boxes, used fireworks, and other detritus left from the previous night's fireworks.
"Who is raising their children to treat Traverse City like this?" asked city Commissioner Jim Carruthers. "Doesn't anyone care about anything anymore?"