Special to Historic City News
Chewing gum on the bottom of your shoe after a walk on St. George Street may seem like a minor annoyance to some, but to resident Linda Groom the issue is so sticky she decided to bring it before the St, Augustine City Commission this week.
“I’d like to see St. Augustine become the first city to bring gum-littering to halt,” says Groom, who decided to do some research on the problem after walking the newly refurbished Bridge of Lions and seeing gum wads already defacing, sidewalks, new paint and guardrails.
Groom found out that Wrigley is working to develop a chewing gum that not only won’t stick to dental work, but will become an environmentally friendly powder when discarded.
She also discovered that gum litter was a problem for which several cities around the globe had come up with some pretty creative solutions. For example: Seattle has a designated “bubble gum wall”, while San Luis Obispo – which calls itself “the happiest place in America” has their Bubble Gum Alley, established in 1960.
“What these cities have come up with is a gimmick to get people to come and see, but it’s also a way to deal with the problem,” Groom said.
It came up in the city meeting that Singapore has outlawed the sale of chewing gum in the city since 1992, after which Mayor Joe Boles, Jr. described a similar policy by Disney World.
While Groom didn’t think the problem should wait on a gum technology breakthrough by Wrigley, she wasn’t sure a ban on chewing gum in the city was a solution either.
“I think the problem can be fixed in a more whimsical way,” said Groom, adding that she really didn’t like the idea of a bubble gum wall, but thought a painter she read about who uses lacquered gum wads as an art medium was more in keeping with the city’s cultural themes.
Photo credits: © 2011 Historic City News staff photographer