Mayor details need for changes on Square
Published 12:56 am Saturday, December 19, 2015
We have initiated a discussion about a problem that we have concerning our downtown square. For many years, we have experienced vandalism, excessive litter and abuse of public and private property on and around the square. Additionally, the same is true for other public and private parking lots on East Three Notch Street, Church Street, South Cotton Street, etc.
We routinely receive complaints about garbage, trash, cans, litter and other items that I won’t specifically mention, from business owners, citizens, city council members, city staff, visitors, our police officers, who frequent the square and other areas nearby. The vast majority of pedestrians and square visitors are there to enjoy one of the most prominent features in Andalusia in a very appropriate manner. However, there are those who visit the square and other parking lots in town and leave a trail of destruction in their wake. Admittedly, this is a very small group of individuals and it is truly sad that they are spoiling some of our most important areas and that their behavior requires that we consider an appropriate response.
Some people would ask why the police don’t enforce the litter laws in Andalusia? First, a police officer has to actually see someone in the act of littering before they can cite for littering. It is very unlikely that people will discard litter in the presence of an officer, so, the people causing these problems on the square and other areas of our city are smart enough not to discard litter in from of a police officer. We can’t afford to post a police officer on the square to prevent this type of conduct. Our police department is busy answering all sorts of serious calls that require their immediate attention. Also, the people causing most of these problems can be found parked on the square and other areas as late as 2:00 in the morning. What possible legitimate and constructive business could they be up to at those hours on the square?
As mayor and city council, our intent is to promote a clean, safe and family friendly environment on and around our square, however, we have a responsibility to protect it from those who would abuse it. For Example, we have a beautiful Christmas Tree and related displays in cAndyland on our square all in an effort to promote family fun and business in Andalusia. Sadly, we are spending a rather large degree of city resources patrolling and cleaning the square after a few misuse it. We feel strongly that we have a responsibility to address the situation in order to preserve the square for the public and businesses both now and in the future.
I can assure you that any action we take to address this problem will be respectful of our citizens’ rights and needs, but I believe the vast majority of the citizens are tired of supporting this irresponsible conduct.
Earl V. Johnson,