Traverse City Record-Eagle

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December 4, 2012

Traverse City bans alcohol in more parks

Commission will revisit issue of the homeless on Dec. 10

TRAVERSE CITY — Megan Crandall no longer visits Traverse City beaches after repeated harassment by drunken people.

Crandall, a city resident and member of the board for Traverse City Area Public Schools, urged the city commission Monday night to do more than adopt an ordinance banning all alcohol in three city parks. She called the city's efforts to address the problem of derelicts "folly" because the ordinance won't be enforced.

"I'd rather see it done right than adding one more ordinance that won't be used," Crandall said.

The city bans everything but beer and wine in its parks. It recently banned beer and wine in the Jay Smith Walkway. The commission voted Monday to include Lay and Hannah parks on Union Street just south of the Boardman River and American Legion Park off Cass Street across from United Methodist Church to the all-alcohol ban.

"You have to do what you can and this is a good first step," said Commissioner Mary Ann Moore.

Commissioners agreed to revisit the issue at their next study session on Dec. 10 at 7 p.m.

The Central Neighborhood Association asked Commissioner Jim Carruthers to seek the alcohol ban at Hannah Park.

"People are sleeping in the bushes overnight," Carruthers said. "They leave their refuse, their garbage, there's human waste. There's a lot going on down there."

City police recommended the addition of Lay and American Legion parks because they are close to downtown churches that provide meals and other services to the homeless. Mayor Michael Estes called the alcohol ban a "Band-Aid" and urged a broader approach.

"This is not going to solve the homeless issue and problems associated with it," Estes said. "We'll be back with some other Band-Aid proposal in two weeks, or two months down the road."

Commissioner Michael Gillman said the problem stems not from the homeless but a hard-core group of about a dozen troublemakers who keep the citizens from enjoying their parks.

But Commissioner Barbara Budros said the commission needs to look beyond just the troublemakers in crafting a solution.

"I firmly believe we need to do more, not just about the troublemakers, but the homeless and people who aren't getting the services they need," she said.

Estes encouraged all citizens with concerns or suggestions to contact a city commissioner or city staff before Dec. 10.

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