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Tuesday, 24 July 2012

By ANNE HOLLIDAY
WESB/WBRR News Director


It’s time for the taxpaying citizens to start having some control of our city again.

Steve Cavallaro made that statement to Bradford City Council on behalf of himself and several other downtown business owners who are fed up with loitering, bad language, bicycle and skateboard riding on sidewalks, and other types of bad behavior.

Cavallaro of Cavallaro Paint and Decorating; Kathy Obermeyer of Real Living Avista Properties; Todd Hennard, owner of the Main Street Mercantile and other buildings; and Nancy Graham, owner of The Tin Ceiling Gift Shoppe, presented council with a proposal that they hope would transfer control back to the business owners and their customers.

“We don’t even feel like we have any control over what’s going on downtown, yet we’re the ones paying the lion’s share …” he said, adding that they would like to see more police foot patrols, and enforce the ordinances that are already in the books.

“It’s getting ridiculous with kids on the bicycles, the skateboarders up and down the street all day long --- loitering in doorways of businesses …”

"It’s getting to the point where you feel you can’t do anything nice anymore without your property being violated or getting told to -- ‘go jump in the lake’ is a nice way of putting it,” he said.

Cavallaro, Obermeyer, Hennard and Graham did all say they appreciated the work the police department is doing; they are just hoping for more of a presence on Main Street.

Cavallaro added that they just want to get “our sidewalks and streets under control.”

And if the police have to impose fines?

“Hey, it’s more revenue for the city,” he said, adding that he’d rather see those people get a fine rather than one of his patrons get a parking ticket for parking in front of his store.

Obermeyer said, “I can’t even describe what’s going on anymore. It is just absolutely pathetic.”

She said she’s not just speaking for herself.

“This is a conversation I’ve had over and over and over again with people who live in this community,” she said, adding “It’s not knocking the police station in any form.”

Hennard said he was out of town Friday and when he drove back into town he quickly went from being happy to being embarrassed.

He was happy that the hotels were filled and Bradford drew such a crowd for the events over the weekend. But he was embarrassed by the antics he saw downtown – people screaming at each other, stumbling down the street with open beer cans, whipping pop bottles against buildings.

“We don’t have the answers,” he said. “We’re coming to you saying, ‘What can be done?’ We’re at our wit’s end.”

Graham said she’s had customers come into her store asking what’s happening on Main Street.

“They don’t understand just the presence of all the crazy people on Main Street,” she said.

“We’re fed up,” Graham said. “Penalize a few of them. Give a few of them a fine, and I think word will get out.”

After the business people, and a few others, spoke on the issue, Mayor Tom Riel said there are concerns about Main Street but he said council cannot address many of those concerns.

“You can’t regulate the F-word on Main Street. You can’t regulate somebody who has too many tattoos – or they’re too cheap or they’re too ugly or the image on the tattoo. You can’t … pass an ordinance to require a certain amount of dental care that someone might have. You can’t regulate strollers. The Supreme Court makes it almost impossible to prosecute somebody for loitering,” Riel said.

He said Bradford Area Chamber of Commerce Director Ron Orris is leading an effort to have surveillance cameras installed on Main Street, the side streets and alley ways. Riel suggested that concerned citizens contribute to that effort.

Police Chief Chris Lucco, who is in favor of the surveillance cameras, said, “The bigger problem is the caliber of people. We can’t do much about that.”

“If they know they are being watched, they’re less likely to misbehave and if they can’t be there misbehaving, they might not be there,” Lucco said.

He also encouraged people to contribute to the surveillance camera effort.

Listen here. (includes a discussion about tattoos/tattoo parlors)

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