Backs up over park benches

Local business owners are pushing to remove benches from downtown area, with the hope that troublesome teens will soon follow.

Local business owners are  pushing to remove benches from downtown area, with the hope that troublesome teens will soon follow.

Vic Calvert, owner of the Underwood Hotel, appeared before Chase council Aug. 14, expressing his concern over the types of crowds that are drawn to a park bench situated outside his building.

Calvert said he has not even officially opened his doors yet and potential customers  are already asking him to move the bench.

“They are intimidated by the people who gather there,” said Calvert.

Sears manager Susan Bleile, has similar concerns. She says teenagers hanging out on the bench in front of her store during working hours  often scare away customers.

“There must be more appropriate spots for a park bench than on a street corner,” said Bleile.

Both Calvert and Bleile claim the benches are contributing to the vandalism issues that continue to occur in the area.

Another member of the gallery, one who rents from Calvert, said she watched a group carrying on up and down the street before beating up the pop machines and eventually breaking one of the Underwood’s windows.

Calvert did not want to completely get rid of the park benches, suggesting they be relocated.

Bleile told council she understands the benches were there for beautification purposes, but questioned whether the litter and vandalism that seems to be related to them does not counteract this purpose.

Someone else in the gallery suggested the benches be moved to the playground at Memorial Park, pointing out  the park has a great playground that is often frequented by local families as well as tourists, who have nowhere to sit while the children play.

While the benches may be a nuisance in the downtown area, she said they would be greatly appreciated in the park by those who could really use them.

Coun. Rick Berrigan said he agreed that Memorial Park does need benches and added he would like to look into adding a number of them to that location.

Mayor Ron Anderson, however, doesn’t believe removing the benches will eliminate the vandalism issue in the downtown area completely, nor the amount of people who linger there.

He said this is an issue that must be worked on with the local RCMP in order to see any real improvements.

Council agreed that the request to move  the benches from downtown Chase was reasonable and voted to discuss the matter further at their Sept. 4 committee of the whole meeting.

Salmon Arm Observer

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