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Fort Madison looks to clear streets of nuisance cars

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City officials said they're working together to address the growing problem of nuisance cars as the continue the push to beautify Fort Madison.

"Historically these tend to build up over a number of years so were finally investing a little bit more manpower to pick an initiative to try and get ahead of this again and try and bring the city back into compliance," police chief Mark Rohloff said.

He said it's not the first time the city has tried taking action against eyesores on wheels.

"Warnings that have been issued by the building inspector have been unheeded," Rohloff said.

But mayor-elect Matt Mohrfeld said things are going to be different this time around as city hall and the police department are working together to clean up the streets.

"So now we've got a whole team that's on the right page and once we do this moving forwards we can help people so it doesn't get to the point where we don't have to extract 120 cars," Mohrfeld said.

Rohloff said city officials sent out abatement letters in November giving residents until December 6 to remove or rehabilitate the vehicles.

"That means any point after that date, the police department will show up show up with a wrecker and tow vehicles," he said.

But not everyone is on board with the new approach.

"I want the city cleaned up too, I don't want to live in a dump," resident Eric Fortune said. "But forcing you to get rid of your property? I don't know if I agree with that."

Mohrfeld said there's a lot more at stake.

"If we want to clean up the town, we have to clean up the town," he said. "We have to send a message that we are not the dump site for Southeast Iowa."

Mohrfeld said this project is the start of a new push for the beautification of Fort Madison.

He said when his term starts in January, one member of the city council will deal specifically with beautification efforts.

He also said the council will be working much more closely with the city inspector as well as more interdepartmental cooperation.

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Blake Sammann

Blake Sammann is a reporter and weekend anchor at WGEM News.

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