There’s nothing attractive about dirt, grime and graffiti, so Operation Downtown’s ambassadors work hard to ensure that downtown Des Moines offers a clean, inviting place in which to live, work and visit.
The City of Des Moines and Operation Downtown have partnered on a recycling pilot program aimed at creating a cleaner and greener Downtown Des Moines. We have placed eight recycling receptacles throughout East Village for area workers, visitors and residents. This six-month pilot program aligns with the Des Moines City Council’s five-year strategic plan goal of achieving a 100 percent reduction of solid waste by 2050. The Recycle DSM pilot program builds off of existing efforts that include cigarette butt recycling through Operation Downtown and recycling at various Downtown events, in addition to efforts by residential property owners to offer recycling options to their residents.
Off-duty police officers
Operation Downtown and the Des Moines Police Department schedule off-duty officers for foot patrol and bicycle patrol downtown several days a week, in addition to teams who cover the downtown area from May through August on Friday and Saturday nights. “Our relationship with the Des Moines Police Department has grown through the years, and we strive to be proactive rather than reactive to help keep downtown a safe place where people can enjoy themselves,” said Scot Blanchard, operations manager for Operation Downtown. We also work closely with the Des Moines Police Department to hire off-duty officers to help patrol big events downtown, such as the Downtown Farmers’ Market.
When the weather turns colder in the fall, thousands of crows come into the downtown area to seek warmth. These huge flocks can make quite a mess with their droppings, so Operation Downtown has worked with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and federal wildlife specialists to implement non-lethal crow-harassment measures. From pyrotechnics that generate loud noises to laser beams that scare off the birds, the Operation Downtown crow control program implements a number of successful crow-control techniques that keep Des Moines clean and have become role models for other cities.
Going beyond the pooper scooper
Operation Downtown manages the dog waste stations that are strategically located throughout the central business district. These plastic tubes attached to poles are filled with biodegradable bags that dog owners can use to help keep downtown streets and public areas clean. Demand for this program, which started in 2007 with 50 stations, has increased dramatically as more people and their pets live downtown, and more people use the hiking trails that connect with the downtown area. In fact, usage has increased from 4,800 dog waste bags per year in 2007 to 19,000 bags per year in 2010.
Paying attention to details
Operation Downtown utilizes a pressure washer to remove dust, debris and cobwebs in addition to removing any graffiti in the area. Our sidewalk scrubber helps clean areas that need a more gentle touch, such as the granite patio at the Temple for Performing Arts.
During the winter, Operation Downtown ambassadors maintain the Walnut Street Transit Mall, making sure the entrances to the streets are clear of snow so pedestrians can get around easily. The ambassadors also use their two all-terrain vehicles with snow blades, snowblowers and shovels to remove snow from various areas of downtown.