Homelessness in city parks more than an enforcement issue
City bans alcohol in pocket park
The Jay Smith Walkway downtown has drawn attention this week. Apparently, as Commissioner Michael Gillman described it, “drunken bums” and “dope heads” are making people uncomfortable (RE). In reaction mode, the City Commission banned the consumption of alcohol in the pocket park. As it is basically a sidewalk, where drinking is also banned, it seems warranted.
That said, I agree with yesterday’s editorial in the Record Eagle, the drive to further “clamp down” on homelessness, what ever that means, requires a “deft touch”. People have rights and they deserve respect, even when they make you uncomfortable. “Clamping down” involves supporting more than law enforcement. Arresting people and forcing them out of certain areas does nothing but relocate the issues.
Expectations of what the City can actually do need to be discussed. For instance, when mental health programs are cut at the state level, many of the issues extend beyond what a small town can be expected to address. However, if you have a public urination problem, it more than likely means you have a lack of genuine public restrooms.
I trust that the City will approach the increase of homeless people in the community, even the ones dealing with tough challenges like alcohol and drug addiction, with an inclusive manner. There are experts in the region who are more adept in the challenges of homelessness than elected officials. It’d be great to see the City reach out and engage them.
What’s your thoughts?