Theories on who is responsible for the ongoing dumping of used toilet paper and other garbage on a city-owned lot at the corner of Manatee Avenue East and 18th Street East are broadening. All involved now believe the dumping of feces-stained paper products is intentional.
“It doesn’t seem accidental to me,” said Councilman Bemis Smith. “It seems malicious.”
Officials don’t want to speculate on the motivations behind the unusual activity, but the intentional nature of it is beginning to frustrate city hall.
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“I question the motivation behind this and who is trying to make who look bad and for what reason,” said Carl Callahan, city administrator. “We’ve always had problems with dumping on vacant city lots, but this is different and it’s bothersome why it’s being done. I’m hoping it’s only coincidental that it’s happening right after an election cycle, but I don’t want to speculate on motivations.”
The 2.5 acres does have political history. In 2003, the Central Community Redevelopment Agency borrowed $354,000 from the city with the intention of building a library but did so without first getting approval from Manatee County, which runs the library system. The county ultimately rejected the idea and the CCRA suffered an embarrassing failure.
It’s well thought out in an intelligent and devious way to make as big a mess as possible. It’s kind of strange.
John Lundin, Bradenton resident
The city eventually took back the property and it has largely been used by the homeless and for typical illegal dumping that occurs on many city lots. The dumping of used toilet paper had been occurring for a couple of months when resident John Lundin brought the issue to the city’s attention in December.
Lundin said the city cleaned up the property weeks before the Nov. 8 general election and the dumping of used toilet paper began shortly after the election.
Lundin, who noted he has a degree in psychology, said, “I hate to say I’ve been analyzing the garbage, but I have. Something strikes me about this as being almost professional in the consistent way it’s done. It’s well thought out in an intelligent and devious way to make as big a mess as possible. It’s kind of strange.”
Jim McLellan, public works director, has dispatched crews on every occasion and spent days on the lot in December not only cleaning up the garbage but trimming the trees up for better visibility. McLellan said public works and the police department are working together to catch the individual, “but I’d rather not share what we are trying to do.”
The police department has discussed using cameras but did not elaborate whether those cameras are, or will be, used.
“This is an intentional and frequent occurrence and I don’t want to misrepresent the motivations either, but we are doing everything possible to take care of this,” said Councilman Harold Byrd Jr.
Lundin said the latest round of dumping occurred every night from Jan. 1-5 but hasn’t happened since.
“Each day the garbage was less and less,” he said. “I don’t know if this person was just running out of garbage or just got tired because it seems like a lot of work to carry all that garbage in here every night. Or maybe he’s just stocking up his garbage.”