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Staff File Photo by Matt Hamilton / Ryan Hanson with the Downtown Chattanooga Alliance cleans garbage cans in downtown Chattanooga.

With the center city reopening as the pandemic eases, the Downtown Chattanooga Alliance is keeping pace as officials see a sharp upturn in its efforts involving cleanliness, hospitality and outreach.

"Activity begets activity," said Steve Hunt, chairman of the group funded by downtown property owners. "They'll rise to the occasion."

Steve Brookes, the Alliance's executive director, reported Wednesday that it collected 363 bags of trash in May, up 21% over April.

The group's removal of graffiti tags and stickers around the district in May was up 149% from April, according to the Alliance.

It provided 10 motorist assists, such as car jump-starts last month. That was double the number of such assists offered in April.

Brookes told the group's executive committee that the recent Ironman event drew an estimated 7,000 people, prompting the Alliance to put ambassadors on Aquarium Way and Broad Street.

"We're still getting used to people being downtown," he said.

Alliance officials also mentioned last weekend's Nightfall Concert Series event downtown.

"It was bustling," said Hunt. "The amount of people there was incredible."

Brookes showed the panel before and after photos at Fourth and Broad streets where trash had been strewn around Memorial Day. He said the Alliance was able to pick up the garage.

"It shows what we've done," Brookes said, noting there was a question about whether the Alliance's ambassadors should be on duty at the time. "It was impactful."

In addition, Brookes said he's recommending that the Alliance continue a pilot program called Cash for Trash in which people are paid small sums to pick up trash in the district through the end of the year. But, he said, the program should go forward three or four days a week and not seven.

The business improvement district was set up in the city center in 2019 by ordinance after a study and a lot of discussion among people who live, work and run businesses downtown.

Property owners in about 284 parcels in a footprint from Riverfront Parkway to 11th Street and U.S. Highway 27 to Cherry Street provide about $1 million annually to the district to support services making the area cleaner and safer, as well as enhanced beautification and special projects.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.

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