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ONLY ON 3 UPDATE: City removes benches blamed for trouble

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Last month we asked the City of Wilmington about benches in front of a downtown gas station. The store's owner said the seats had become a gathering place for trouble.

Now they are gone.

In a story you saw ONLY ON 3, we told you about New Hanover County 911 receiving more than 100 calls about problems here at the corner of N. 3rd and Red Cross streets just in the past six months alone.

"We have heard several complaints in that area, and we had our police department look at it and determine if they thought there might be an issue. They did in fact think that the benches were causing homeless individuals to congregate in the area," city spokeswoman Malissa Talbert said. "We thought it would be best to go ahead and remove those just in terms of public safety, so we did that."

3rd Street Family Fare owner Ash Tilahun did not want to go on camera, but he says until Monday he was concerned for his customers' safety. Now he says they are free of that problem.

He says it is an unfortunate circumstance for those using the benches properly. But after calling 911 a number of times for people being drunk and fighting at the benches or intimidating customers at the pump, he said something had to be done.

This is not the first time benches have been removed for this problem.

"We have removed them in one other place downtown on Front Street," Talbert said.

Talbert says she does not know how much it cost the city to remove the benches, but she said it was done in-house, so the cost should be minimal.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.

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BENCHES ARE PUBLIC

benches are PUBLIC. people think they are better than others. what if you were homeless? you would appreciate a PUBLIC place to sit. we dont discriminate other races and tell them they cant use the bench because people of their race fight or are drunk. government is out of control. looking for ways to spend money. are they gonna tear down the park they are spending 3.9 million dollars to build because there are drug deals going on at the park or drunk teens hanging around there? NO. put yourself in their shoes.

Were the Benches Intoxicated?

This one incident shows multiple examples of failed, government, policies.

If other benches have been removed because of this same problem, then why was tax money spent to put benches here in the first place?

If the Police Department determined that "there might be an issue" then why not deal with the problem issue by enforcement. The department has, recently, put together a "task force" to deal with problem areas. Park those officers ON the benches until the problem makers get the message.

This is just like the government wanting to ban firearms because of violence. Firearms nor benches have ever hurt anyone. Hold the PEOPLE, causing the problems, accountable for the problems.

My (tax) money was wasted by installing benches, despite a history of benches attracting problems. My (tax) money was then wasted by removing the benches instead of arresting those causing the problems. With the benches there, at least law enforcement knew where these "problem makers" were. Now, they (presumably) have scattered throughout downtown making my decission to stay away from "downtown" just that much stronger.

Wilmington Observer

Wilmington Observer: RE: the

Wilmington Observer:

RE: the other comment you left - THANK YOU!

Means a lot to all of us.

sp

Scott Pickey
WWAY News Director