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Officials Crack Down on ‘Gum Control’

A downtown improvement agency is deploying a new weapon in its battle against wads of discarded chewing gum. Officials first spotted the device called GumBuster on an episode of the Discovery Channel's "Dirty Jobs" series but couldn’t swallow the distributor’s $6,200 price tag for a new GumBuster, generator and other accessories.

As custodians of one of Connecticut’s poorest cities, Bridgeport officials are often confronted with the need to find the least expensive solutions to sticky problems. They found the best answer to this sticky situation on the Internet for about one third the cost of what the GumBuster distributor was asking.

The Bridgeport Downtown Special Services District snagged the gum removal machine for $1,300 on the online eBay auction site, bought a $300 generator at a local discount lumber yard-- and quickly got down to the business of unsticking the unsightly mess from downtown sidewalks.

Officials say it's about as easy as, well _ walking and chewing gum at the same time, according to a Connecticut Post article,

Workers just spray steam over the wads to loosen them up, then dissolve the rest with a solution of soap and water and scrape up the residue.

Robert Keeley, the agency's executive director, said it launched the gum-control campaign last week and will continue it through the summer in high-traffic areas.

Before acquiring the GumBuster, the agency couldn't develop a method of cleaning up gum that would not damage the sidewalks, he said.

"We've had people come in and test different ideas and different equipment in the past, but this is the only one that actually solves the problem," he said.

Some downtown pedestrians say it may be a losing battle against chronic gum-tossers, while others applauded it as a practical solution to an everyday annoyance.

"It'll make the sidewalks look better," said 25-year-old Cliff Morgan, "and now if you're wearing new sneakers you won't have to worry about getting gum all over the bottom."

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