A war on trash

Top Shelf owner does his part to clean up Lyn-Lake area

Black trash bag in hand, John Meegan walked in dress clothes down Aldrich Avenue between Lake and 31st streets on a recent afternoon, picking up garbage.

A neighbor yelled &#8220Hey, Top Shelf,” as Meegan and one of his employees, 17-year- old Ian Wunderlich, passed by, gathering food wrappers, paper and other trash lining the sidewalks and gutter.

Meegan and his garbage bags have become a familiar sight in the Lyn-Lake area.

The Lyndale resident and owner of custom suit and shirt business Top Shelf, located at 3040 Lyndale Ave. S., picks up litter whenever he comes across it; and he's trying to get his neighbors to do the same.

&#8220Whenever I see bad trash, I gotta hit it,” said Meegan, who cleaned up the Aldrich garbage after finding it earlier in the morning.

Litter creates the perception of a neighborhood that doesn't care about its image, Meegan said, which invites crime and further degradation. Trash seems to have gotten worse in the area this year and so has crime, he said.

He said a community effort to keep Lynn-Lake clean would ensure its beauty and safety.

&#8220I'm trying to get everyone to look outside their doors,” he said.

To do that, Meegan took photos of trash near area businesses this year and sent them to owners and employees along with friendly messages requesting their attention to the problem.

One such message went to Tracey Jackson, public facilities administrator for Metro Transit. Meegan sent her several photos of litter strewn outside the Nicollet garage at 10 W. 32nd St. earlier in the year. He said the garage looks much cleaner now.

Jackson said trash is more visible after the snow melts and Metro Transit always does a spring cleanup. Because of the volume of customers who pass through transit centers each day, litter can be a problem, she said. Maintenance staff will continue to frequently check centers into the summer, she said.

Meegan has also contacted Redeemer Residence, the local YMCA and other organizations.

In residential areas, he hopes his presence, and those of his co-workers, friends and family who help him, will inspire neighbors to get out their trash bags. Some of them have.

Brad Hanson, who lives at 3035 Aldrich Ave., said he gets out to pick up trash when he can. He said Meegan has set a good example for other neighbors.

&#8220Every time I see him, he's picking up something,” Hanson said.

Much of the litter in the Lyn-Lake comes from drivers throwing trash out their car windows, said Susan Young, director of Solid Waste and Recycling Services in Minneapolis. The city has tried placing more waste containers on the sidewalks but found that litter only increased because drivers didn't get out of their cars to throw things away.

&#8220Unfortunately, we're not all Michael Jordan,” Young said.

The city has cleanup crews that patrol designated corridors, she said. Sections of Lyndale Avenue get checked every other week.

Citizens who want to take on the responsibility of keeping a section of the city clean can adopt a block. Anyone who adopts a block can receive free gloves, yellow bags and vests for themselves and their cleaning party. Meegan hadn't heard of the program.

&#8220We certainly don't need orange gloves and yellow vests to do what we do,” he said. &#8220We adopt neighborhoods.”

Jake Weyer can be reached at [email protected] and 436-4367.