Benches Removed And Relocated Downtown Columbia
Carrie Gartner, the director of the District says, “We had customers that were being harassed. There was a lot of aggressive panhandling going on with some open container violations.”
The benches were removed from 9th street and Broadway street downtown. The benches were in front of Poppy and US Bank. They will be put in front of Cafe Berlin and the Tin Can.
“We’ve been wanting a bench for a while,” says Patrick Oblennis, an employee at the Tin Can. The Tin Can has a wooden bench outside of the building now, but the employees and customers aren’t too fond of it.
“I mean look at it. It’s missing boards, it’s rusted, it’s old, it’s nasty, it’s full of splinters.”
But others are not so pleased with having a bench in front of their business. Poppy employee Diana Parker is happy the bench is gone.
“The only thing I could try to do to fight against panhandling was to have the bench removed which is what I did. I wrote a note to the city just asking for it.”
But Frederick Schmidt, who works right above Parker thinks the benches are great for business owners.
“The owners should want this because it is good for their customers. Their customers sit and wait for their friends or sit with their shopping bags.”
Schmidt also thinks, “It’s a good thing to have people congregating in front of your business.”
But both Parker and Schmidt agree that removing the benches isn’t a solution to the problem of panhandling.
“If you get rid of the benches, then panhandlers and intoxicated people will still be here,” says Schmidt.
Parker says, “It’s not going to correct the problem completely.”
Many of the benches are still in place in the downtown area.
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