Crime

Used toilet paper is dumped in lot, and a city is trying to unravel the mystery

The person dumping used toilet paper and garbage on a city-owned lot in east Bradenton struck again four times earlier this month, causing city officials to question the motivation behind the ongoing incident.
The person dumping used toilet paper and garbage on a city-owned lot in east Bradenton struck again four times earlier this month, causing city officials to question the motivation behind the ongoing incident. myoung@bradenton.com

The mystery dumping of used toilet paper on a city-owned lot in Bradenton continues. But authorities are pretty sure the dirty deed is intentional.

“It doesn’t seem accidental to me,” Councilman Bemis Smith said. “It seems malicious.”

Officials don’t want to speculate on the motivations behind the dumping of feces-filled paper, but the intentional nature of it is beginning to frustrate Bradenton City Hall.

“I question the motivation behind this and who is trying to make who look bad and for what reason,” City Administrator Carl Callahan said. “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.

The city eventually took back the property and it has largely been used by the homeless and for 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 and spent days on the lot in December not only cleaning up the garbage but trimming the trees 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,” Councilman Harold Byrd Jr. said.

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.”

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