Trash country: The city must get tough on fans who dump garbage

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If the jarring footage and photos of trash mounds, drunken fights and general chaos from Saturday’s Luke Bryan country-western concert at Heinz Field weren’t enough, here’s an account by numbers: seven arrested, 100 calls to 911, 15 fights broken up and 34 people hospitalized. By all accounts, the mess wasn’t as bad as last year’s Kenny Chesney concert at which 73 were arrested, but that’s not comforting.

Mayor Bill Peduto isn’t pleased with the aftermath. He announced that the city would bill promoters for the cost to the public works department for cleaning up, saying “Enough is enough — the continued trashing of our city has to stop.”

He’s right. There’s no reason the city should have to foot the bill for cleaning up after concertgoers. Neither should North Shore residents have to see and smell the lingering refuse of rowdy crowds.

Officials have said that they are considering imposing a surcharge on event promoters, limiting river access to boaters and reducing parking lot hours to tailgaters. Billing promoters for cleanup and curtailing access to concert attendees who trash the riverfront is sensible, but limiting parking lot hours could cause concertgoers to circle the stadium and fill up side streets to the great annoyance of residents.

What would be more effective is better policing of special events — from requiring promoters to hire more levels of private security to deploying city officers who would issue citations for littering and disorderly conduct, with all of the added costs to be paid by the promoters.

Pittsburgh hosts many large festivals and parades, none of which wreak the same amount of damage and embarrassment as the summertime country-western stadium concert. Instead of tolerating this annual disgrace, the city should take the tough steps needed to prevent it from happening.


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