By Vanessa McCray
---- — TRAVERSE CITY--The Jay Smith Walkway appeared serene and vacant on a recent sunlit morning.
The pocket park, located along Front Street between Pangea's Pizza and Kilwin's, features lunch tables and benches and a gurgling fountain dedicated to grandfathers.
But some complain the park takes on an entirely different kind of vibe when people hanging out there take to the bottle. Kilwin's Owner Mary Daily said some of her customers avoid the area completely because people confront them, beg for money and sleep and urinate in the bushes.
"We (have) families and people just going through the area (that) are very intimidated," she said.
City Attorney Lauren Trible-Laucht heard complaints, too, and recommended a beer and wine ban if city commissioners want to address the issue. The walkway is considered a city park, and as such hard liquor is not permitted. Banning the consumption and possession of beer and wine requires the city commission to adopt a resolution prohibiting those beverages. The city commission is scheduled to consider the proposal at its meeting today at 7 p.m. in the Governmental Center.
If a ban is approved, it would effectively ban all alcohol in the walkway, Trible-Laucht said. Violators could be charged with a misdemeanor.
"There were some specific complaints from businesses," she said.
Downtown Development Authority Deputy Director Rob Bacigalupi said presently "police can't do anything about drinking" in the park, where people "have been hanging out and some have been drinking."
"This will enable police to do something about that activity," he said.