Editor’s note: Taking care of the root problem needs happen…crime and blight need to be addressed before cosmetics can lure people downtown. Cleaning up the downtown is necessary but business owners and shoppers need to feel safe above all else. Without the root problem being addressed, it’s another case of putting lipstick on a pig.
The consultants designing Downtown 20/20 – what Penn Square should look like to attract more out-of-towners – say they’ve gotten an earful of criticism and suggestions at three recent public hearings, and have tweaked the plans to accommodate some comments.
But they also got an earful this week from City Council members, who said that although they liked the ideas, nothing will happen until the city begins resolving Penn Square’s larger issues.
“Nobody wants to go downtown with all the drunks sitting around,” Councilwoman Donna Reed said at a work session with the 20/20 steering committee and the consultants. “It’s just an uncomfortable, disgusting place to walk.”
She said the Downtown Improvement District said its biggest challenge is dealing with public drunkenness, and the city needs to start enforcing its loitering laws and getting rid of the reeking trash containers on North Fourth Street.