A couple of loyal Ashvegas readers recently notified me that the city of Asheville had replaced a bench on Walnut Street with a new, ridiculously tiny bench. My guess is it is an attempt to thwart the homeless and hangers-on who can often be seen hanging out on and around the bench, which is at the intersection of Walnut and Lexington.
If the city thinks they can stop people from hanging out on the street, they’re wrong. All kinds of folks already pop a squat on the sidewalk around downtown. Do they really think this dumb bench is a solution?
This wouldn’t be the first time the city has tried their hand at bench management. A few years back, the city removed a bench in front of Vanderbilt Apartments. The city also took two benches that faced one another in front of Mobilia on Haywood Street and put them so they were facing away from one another. It was all an attempt to stop reported criminal activity on the street.
The bench on Walnut Street is an official stop on Asheville’s Urban Trail. It’s called Marketplace. Here’s more from city:
A bronze bonnet and a basket of apples rest on a bench as they might have in the 1800s. Notice the double doors on many structures along these roads. The buildings housed produce markets and livery stables with doors large enough to accommodate a horse and wagon.
Thanks to loyal readers Stacey and Tyler for the heads-up.
I’m guessing that you aren’t getting the responses that you expected, Jason. The city should do more about people “popping a squat” all over downtown. As Headhunter, FDR, and JT allude to, these people aren’t down and out homeless looking for a leg up; they’re transients, and many of them are dangerous.
Sean, I didn’t have any pre-conceived notions about what responses I would get.
Speaking of abusive panhandlers, I watched a couple of bums sittling in a closed store entrance near the drum circle on Friday night shouting at the LaZoom Tours’ “Sister Bad Habit”, and no one did or said anything. This is the price a “progressive” town pays for earning a reputation of excessive “tolerance”: we are now the squatting place for an army of loud, foul-mouthed bullies, yet if the APD or anyone else acts against them, they will be labeled as fascists while the parasites continue to recieve pity and handouts.
I once had a guest call me out because I asked a bum to leave the patio of our restaurant. She also suggested that I give him something to eat. My reply? Let me go get him and have him sit with you at your table. For some odd reason, she was not interested in that solution.
so what’s next …
when “they” start hanging out in the park will we dig it up and pave it over because some do not approve …
surely there is a loitering law in AVL and someone at APD with a little common sense.
The only thing ridiculous about this is the headline.
That is ridiculous!
Ah, Asheville, passive-aggressive as always.
it’s munchkin sized, urban trail = yellow brick road
At the January meeting of the Public Art and Culture Commission a representative of the Asheville Police Department reported numerous ongoing complaint calls from merchants and citizens in the area regarding aggressive panhandling, fighting, open containers of alcohol, sleeping on the bench, and large groups obstructing the sidewalk.. APD requested that the bench be removed permanently. What you see now is temporary and will be replaced with a permanent solution that will retain the bronze apple basket sculpture that is Station 15 commemorating the former Market Place.
As a local business owner with a storefront right by the “apple bench,” I would love to see APD dovetail this strange move with increased patrols in the area for loitering. When the folks who frequented the bench began looking for alternative places to squat, many ended up sitting on shop stoops. Otherwise, you’ve taken the transients and chased them off the public benches and onto private doorways.
It’s hard to blame the city for not wanting another gathering spot for what seem to be Asheville’s official greeters. Every bench downtown is occupied 24/7 by the panhandlers and, with it now being summer, they’re getting more aggressive. I can deal with the guy that wants to tell me his receding hair line joke for a buck every other day or the other fella that will interpret your dreams but the guys that hang out on the benches are just plain old offensive. They harangue just every person within shouting distance and god help you if you don’t cough up some change. Last night, I saw a group of tourists change directions on Broadway specifically to avoid a group of loud mouthed drunks on the bench down the street from Mellow Mushroom. Call it small minded if you want but, as someone that works downtown and deals with these yahoos every day, I wouldn’t miss the benches.
Dead on. This cities missions like to call these folk Homeless to keep the funding rolling in, when truthfully we don’t have that many Homeless. We do have 800+ freeloading TRANSIENTS that like to live off everyone else without contributing to society. They fill up the missions every night for free room, board and a meal. I work downtown and once you visit Asheville as a tourist you never come back. How will we ever survive if everyone is a one time customer. Eventually it will get very old.
I totally agree. Living downtown makes me savvy on how to avoid the panhandlers/aggressive drunks, but I feel sorry for the tourists that are just trying to explore our beautiful city.
My guess is that a decision was made by the city to remove the bench entirely, but because the Urban Trail marker explicitly refers to a bench the Downtown Association was allowed to replace it with a smaller, less homeless-accommodating version instead. Better something than nothing, right?
What does the Downtown Association have to say about this.
The funding for the Urban Trail originated with them …
and isn’t there a fund that takes care of the trail …
it’s laughable … but they turned off the water to the little girl at the fountain too.
That bench has been removed at least two times before because panhandlers sit on it for hours thanks to the shade. The Mobilia benches were turned around because panhandlers sat or napped for hours. Businesses don’t want panhandlers right in front of them. And who can blame them?
What small minded people make these decisions?