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Bus shelter causes controversy in Ravenna

By Diane Smith | Staff Writer Published: August 13, 2013 4:00 AM
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Ravenna plans to remove a bus shelter from the city's downtown in response to complaints about loitering.

Mayor Joseph Bica told members of City Council's community and economic development committee that the problem is not people waiting for the bus in front of 220 W. Main St., but people who use the shelter as a place to loiter.

"People sit in that bus stop all day long," he said. "There would still be a bus stop, just not a place to sit."

Community Development Director Kerry Macomber said the city received a petition with about 65 signatures, complaining that the shelter on the north side of West Main Street had become a gathering place for "undesirables." Ted Manfrass, who owns the building directly behind the shelter, said people presented with the petition were quick to respond by asking, "Where do I sign?"

A second shelter, located across the street directly in front of the Portage County courthouse, was not a focus of the complaints.

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The city had suggested moving the shelter further west, in front of the Ravenna Township Park in front of the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army, Macomber said, was in favor of the move, saying many of its clients take advantage of the bus service.

Manfrass said the shelter, which was made to resemble a trolley car, was installed during Streetscape. Because there are only about 9 feet of sidewalk between the shelter and the window of his building, loitering has been a problem for his tenants. Previously, the martial arts studio had received complaints about the foul language parents heard while picking up their children. Now, he said, the side panels of the shelter have been removed. The Kidz Shop owner said people frequently loiter in her doorway because the shelter doesn't protect them from the elements.

"It's a problem," Manfress said. He said he agreed that most people causing problems are not waiting for the bus.

Bryan Smith, director of planning for the Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority, sent a memo that "strongly recommends against the removal of the bus stop at West Main and Sycamore." However, he acknowledged, he had no authority to force the city to keep its shelter.

"PARTA does not own the shelters in downtown Ravenna," Smith said. "It is our understanding that they are the property of the city of Ravenna. As such, we can only recommend, as we have no property interest in the shelters themselves."

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However, he pointed out that eliminating the shelter would leave no stops for passengers headed west on the InterUrban route. He noted that another Ohio community jeopardized access to federal highway funds over eliminating bus stops, and CDBG funds granted to Coleman Professional Services for its apartment project were granted because its residents are low income and "transit dependent."

"The 'transients' and 'undesirables' mentioned in the petition that 'loiter' in the area aren't necessarily there to ride the bus, but perhaps, live in and around downtown," Smith said.

Council President Fran Ricciardi suggested that relocating the shelter would simply move the problem further west.

Service Director Kelly Engelhart said the city has considered relocating its downtown benches, and wondered if a good place for the shelter might be on Park Way, in front of the city's police station.

"That's something we'd have to ask PARTA about," she said.

Bica said the police department has established foot patrols hourly as case load permits, but the problem persists.

"We'll see what happens," he said of removing the shelter.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1139 or dsmith@recordpub.com

Facebook: Diane Smith, Record-Courier

Twitter: @DianeSmith_RC

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thorgrin Aug 16, 2013 10:52 PM

This article and its comments are now viral online.

thorgrin Aug 16, 2013 10:51 PM

Redleg... I misspoke myslef. I hate categorizing people. I apologize sincerely, and I feel very badly now that I see my error.

redleg6 Aug 16, 2013 9:09 PM

How does one determine who is  (quoting Thorgrin below) a "REGULAR CITIZEN" as opposed to an "UNDESIRABLE CITIZEN"?

What is the Criteria Ravenna OFFICIALS use to ascertain who is a REGULAR CITIZEN vs an UNDESIRABLE CITIZEN?

Maybe Community Development Director Kerry Macomber could give us some guidance/guidelines on this matter.

Remember, you cannot Judge a book by its cover.

thorgrin Aug 16, 2013 5:31 PM

Well, the bench and the shelter are gone. I'm sure the owners of the establishments in photos above are relieved that sitting is no longer allowed at the bus stop. I drove past this afternoon and there were 10+ regular citizens waiting there for the bus. Congratulations shop owners, you've gotten your way.

thorgrin Aug 15, 2013 10:36 PM

dre- that was reprehensible.

dre Aug 14, 2013 12:18 PM

@cimmy..."cleanse Ravenna". hehehe...if it were only that easy.

dre Aug 14, 2013 12:18 PM

@cimmy..."cleanse Ravenna". hehehe...if it were only that easy.

dre Aug 14, 2013 12:00 PM

 I'm a 40+ year Portage resident...my Father was a  Kent police officer and later a county employee with an office in the justice center. In the 80's myself and my siblings were not permitted to go to Ravenna...we were raised with the notion that the county seat was nowhere to be and we were not to mingle amongst the garbage. That was how many decades ago? Nothing has changed for the better that's for sure and my children are not permitted in Ravenna...plain and simple.

@thorgrin...your ignorance and denial are showing. Typical Ravennian. Your hometown is a nightmare. Btw...Ravenna has camera's all over downtown. Ask the Heeter's...they've spent many a day in jail and many an afternoon in court and their PO's office due to photographic evidence downtown. Educate yourself.

@cimmy...send your "less fortunate" on over to Kent, we'll just process them in our lovely new courthouse then transfer them to our nice new holding facility....where they belong in the first place.


thorgrin Aug 14, 2013 10:27 AM

gag me. this is ridiculous. Just put in cameras.

Ian_Maserb Aug 14, 2013 3:46 AM

What? Are those people in Ravenna misbehaving again? Didn't they learn from the last time we had to take away their toys? Well, this will certainly teach them a lesson!

redleg6 Aug 13, 2013 9:32 PM

Here is an idea.

Get the Lady Ravenna PD  officer that drives that little vehicle around town chalking tires looking for parking violations.

Have her chalk the shoes of the Undesirables at the bus shelter. If the Undesirables violate the allowable loitering time limit , issue the violator a "Undesirables Citizen Citation".

Community Development Director Kerry Macomber can be the Undesirable Citizens Judge and Jury at the new "Undesirable Citizens Court of Ravenna".

Instead of a fine, give the violators a dust pan and a broom to sweep up butts/trash around the bus stops.




redleg6 Aug 13, 2013 6:06 PM

If loitering is such a problem at the bus shelter, where are all  (Quote from Community Development Director Kerry Macomber) the  'UNDESIRABLES' ??? The bus shelter is Empty in the pictures.

Maybe Community Development Director Kerry Macomber can organize the UNDESIRABLE and TRANSIENT Citizens of Ravenna, Relocation Program.

revenian Aug 13, 2013 3:39 PM

 If you are ashamed of Ravenna, look no further than our council - they don't want change, they pick and choose what they want, when they want it. They want Ravenna to be as it was in the Armory days. If you don't like what's happening in Ravenna, tell your council person. Have them get off their complacent butts and do something constructive.

So none of these "undesirables" are clients of Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, Family & Community Services or Children's Advantage, just Coleman? And "undesirables" only live in Ravenna, Ohio - are they shipped there from other places? Mental heatlh issues cannot be blamed on one organization, city or community - that is just ignorance.

Gosh - next thing you know, there will be people of all colors, ethnicities, religions and disabilities (including developmental, mental & physical) all running free on the streets of Ravenna and every other city & town in America! Should there be separate bathrooms & drinking fountains for these individuals? To what country should we ship all these "undesirables"? Or are you saying that they should just be eliminated from the world's population? Wasn't this attempted during WWII?

I expect that anyone responding to my comment will likely use high school bullying tactics.

mlt67 Aug 13, 2013 3:02 PM

@Thorgrin...I agree with ravennaresident...I am embarrassed to say where I live too...I have heard Ravenna be referred to as the "armpit of america"!  I call it what it is...and do something constructive???  I mean last I knew the City of Ravenna is supposed to help out or maybe the Economic Development Officer...they are the ones that can do something and choose not to.  All we are doing as residents is stating our opinions in hopes that maybe after they read so much of this they will realize...change is needed...however I totally doubt it will change anything.  Why are you so deffensive ....don't you see what Ravenna is turning in to???  Really??  Aren't you scared to be confronted by druggies and meth heads for money?  Or maybe you enjoy seeing this stuff...maybe it's entertainment for you??  I just don't understand .. if you live here you surely can see what the rest of us see??!

chasmo Aug 13, 2013 1:54 PM

It seems to me that the city and Coleman have a responsibility to provide for the people they've invited in.   Allowing loitering at PARTA stops is a bad practice.  Cosidering penalizing legitimate users of public transportation by removing shelters is even worse.

childofgod Aug 13, 2013 12:37 PM

Put in a Shelter at every bus stop, and cameras where deemed necessary. It may take time, but once done then all the riders will be mostly dry when raining, and loiterers will have more choices. That will reduce crowding at any one shelter. And if there are those breaking the law at the shelters or anywhere in Ravenna, call the Police. Over time they usually solve the problem.

These shelters provide a useful service. This one shows the need is more than one shelter can solve. And people who complain about everything, they too are everywhere. It's an epidemic. Suggesting solutions shows a desire for progress. Complaining without suggesting solutions shows WHO is part of the problem.

thorgrin Aug 13, 2013 12:27 PM

People are going to continue to say "Ravenna's going downhill!!" and not do anything constructive. I worked outside the city for many years and never heard that said once. When they supposedly said that, did you just throw up your hands and say "oh well"? Or, did you agree and tell people how crappy our town is?

ravennaresident Aug 13, 2013 12:19 PM

OMG Redleg6 you hit the nail on the head!  I think that's a great idea to turn the area where the old high school was into a massive loitering area for Coleman clients!   Oh, and enforcing the the NO LOITERING signs............................well it seems our police are too busy due to their case loads!  This City is going downhill fast!  I work in Twinsburg and have had co-workers ask where I live - when I say Ravenna - their response "That City is Bad News" - "Nothing but rednecks/drugs  and degenerates"!  How embarrassing!

thorgrin Aug 13, 2013 12:03 PM

Ravenna wouldn't be the first town to use cameras. http://www.cleveland.com/naymik/index.ssf/2012/04/clevelands_edgewater_neighborh.html

thorgrin Aug 13, 2013 12:03 PM

Ravenna wouldn't be the first town to use cameras. http://www.cleveland.com/naymik/index.ssf/2012/04/clevelands_edgewater_neighborh.html

thorgrin Aug 13, 2013 11:58 AM

I agree redleg & heynow. The first step would be cameras, not destruction.

thorgrin Aug 13, 2013 11:47 AM

So, we can complain about a bus stop because we don't like who's there... We complain so much that plans are in the works to remove not just an annoying sidewalk hangout, but a transportation tool for good people who need it. That's a big step backwards for our city.

Shop owners, if you're afraid of what goes on on the sidewalks, put up cameras. Don't demand the city remove an important service.

heynow1 Aug 13, 2013 11:39 AM

...I have seen people avoiding the shelters because of the loitering, taking away the bus shelter is NOT the answer.

heynow1 Aug 13, 2013 11:37 AM

I work downtown and have YET to see anyone patrolling the area. Cameras may help, but some examples have to be made and this must be done quickly! People get awfully loud, they litter (mostly cigarette butts) and yes, they loiter. NO LOITERING signs are up, someone NEEDS to inforce this once in awhile. 

Many people depend upon the busses to get to and from work, school, shopping and appointments. It IS their only method of transportation and they should not have to stand out in inclimate weather while waiting for the bus. Let's encourage their behavor instead of setting up another road block. Even though

redleg6 Aug 13, 2013 11:37 AM

From above article:

Ravenna plans to remove a bus shelter from the city's downtown in response to complaints about loitering.

The only thing to do in Ravenna is Loiter.

Coleman and the city of Ravenna love the free taxpayer money in grants to house these folk, yet they want them out of sight, and out of mind.

I say build more shelters at the bus stops in town. Create more options on where its ok to loiter. Spread what .Community Development Director Kerry Macombe calls these folks as "undesirables" around the town.

Perhaps make Coleman build a rec/loitering center. Perhaps a nice Gazebo with plenty of benches where the old high school use to be.

Or maybe get all the churches in town to open their doors to the "undesirables". I think that is something Jesus would do.

The bottom line is these folks have no where to go nothing to do all day.

Coleman and the city wanted the grant/money and only they created the "so called" problem.

There are laws on the books state/fed about harassing folks with disabilities. In America, you are allowed to LOITER in public. The city put the benches/shelters up, take them down if you don't want the folks to sit on them.

 Community Development Director Kerry Macomber  should be FIRED as an UNDESIRABLE.

mlt67 Aug 13, 2013 11:18 AM

@Thorgrin I'm sorry ...but you seem to be the ignorant one assuming I'm talking about the disabled when I'm using the term undesirables!  I am in no way talking about them or you! 

Oh..and by the way, I am also a long time resident and property owner...I also work downtown...and graduated from Ravenna...so don't feel you have to throw that at me.  This town is getting worse with all the loitering and the bums standing around and confronting people in front of businesses...I'm sorry if you're blind to this fact...but something needs to be done..Ravenna is turning to trash really fast!  It's not the disabled or the elderly waiting at the bus stop...its the meth-heads and the losers that are able and leach off the system when they can work!!!

thorgrin Aug 13, 2013 11:16 AM

In fact, it is my preference to see a shelter installed at every parta stop in this city.

thorgrin Aug 13, 2013 11:04 AM

I'm a responsible long-time resident and property owner. I was born in this city. I pay taxes in this city. I'm a parent in this city. I won't let my son be exposed to ignorance and bigotry in this city without showing him how to fight back. I am also disabled. So, dear heart, I will have a major issue with accessibility being infringed upon because of ignorant so-and-sos who delight in calling people "undesireable."

My proposed solution is a security camera, and put the side walls back on the shelter so people don't get wet in the rain or exposed to freezing wind while they're waiting for the bus.

mlt67 Aug 13, 2013 10:53 AM

@Thorgrin what the heck do YOU call these people and what is YOUR solution?..sounds to me like you are one of these people loitering around the bus shelters all day!  You attack everyone for their opinion...but you don't back it up with anything!!

thorgrin Aug 13, 2013 10:47 AM

Instead of taking the shelter away from the elderly and disabled to punish those you don't like, try putting up a security camera. I don't want to see good people lose access to that shelter because some ignoramous' get their shorts in a twist every time they see baggy jeans. You can't have everything perfectly your way. Deal with it. If someone breaks the law, that's what the police are for. It's not their job to kick people out of the city because of the way they look or the fact that they like a particular bench in front of your store. If that shelter is moved or made inaccessible, then the only reason for doing so is plain ignorance.

mlt67 Aug 13, 2013 10:46 AM

Okay...first of all moving the shelter is not going to help...these transients and undesirables will follow the shelter where ever you re-locate it to!  I think its a **** shame that you let these people have this kind of control!  I think the solution should be police officers taking control of this problem!  There are plenty of people that use this bus shelter everyday legitimately why should they be inconvenienced for the behavior of the others?  There are other ways to fix this problem City of Ravenna!

cimmy Aug 13, 2013 10:42 AM

I work in Ravenna, and I love the. People I work with, but yes we do have a problem with certain people wastin their day taking up space in our bus shelters, but to call Ravenna, Detroit???? Or slum, isn't fair, if u have plenty of space in Kent then we'll send our less fortunate to your town. I do agree that something needs to be done with the loitering, not just in bus shelters, but also on the sidewalks themselves, I have watched the same woman stand on the same block for months now, selling herself for 2 bucks, business owners, including where I work have told her to move along, she did, right across the street!!! She's there all day and wee hrs. The police pass her 100s times a day, and never do nothing, as far as bus shelters, I've actually show a man stand in one and take a leak!!!! And yes it was daylight still. And then continue to sleep until he sobbered up!!! But to blame the good citizens of Ravenna ,for our town being trash, is not fair, blame the people running it and get the ones making our town trash JOBS, TO PAY BACK SOME OF THE MONEY they receive every month to sit on their *****, and clutter up our bus shelters and sidewalks!!!!

thorgrin Aug 13, 2013 10:34 AM

Ravenna isn't getting worse. People acting badly isn't anything new. Issuing a blanket statement declaring that "undesireables are ruining this town" is exactly the kind of ignorance and pomposity that stymies growth and improvement.

kmoore83 Aug 13, 2013 10:16 AM

Ravenna is becoming the new Alliance. Two weeks ago I saw a group of teenagers throw rocks and assault a man walking down the road carrying dairy queen. The man was slow. It was right in front of Walgreens.By the time I got to them they took off. My 5 year old son witnessed it and was screaming at the top of his lungs. We called the cops and they showed up 15 mins later. The police station is a block away. There are problems every where, but Ravenna is getting worse. I live in Rootstown and work in Shalersville. I try to avoid driving thru Ravenna.

thorgrin Aug 13, 2013 9:49 AM

Ignorance is bliss, isn't it?  Certain folks need to get a thicker skin and stop being so SNOOTY. The use of the word "undesireable" is offensive and ignorant. This issue is an outlet for racists and bigots to try and "cleanse" Ravenna of anyone they don't like, and it makes me sick. Knock it off, people, and unless people are breaking the law - leave them the **** alone.

dre Aug 13, 2013 8:36 AM

"It's a problem." The entire city of Ravenna is a "problem". Has anyone taken a ride on a Parta bus? They loiter there as well, riding around Portage County because they have free tokens from their PO's and counselor's doing NOTHING with themselves all day. They sit...they bs...they harrass and pander for drugs, sex and money...****, I've had a few offer to sell me their food cards LOL. If you own a business in Ravenna I invite you to take a drive through Kent. We have plenty of space. Get out fast, get out now. Ravenna is a wasteland of corruption, greed and ignorance. It WILL go the way of Detroit, maybe not anytime soon but come talk to me in 20 years. Bankrupt...morally and financially. How about you leave the bus stops and start arresting and actually sentencing the trash to something other than vacations and behavioral therapy which so clearly are not working? This isn't a Parta issue it's a you reap what you sow issue for law enforcement and elected officials.

ravennaresident Aug 13, 2013 8:12 AM

Hey I have an idea - put in front of the Phoenix Bldg. where Coleman Services will be located!  But honestly, no matter where you move it - the "undesirables" will find someplace down town!  That's why I don't venture down town anymore!  And I love the comment about moving in front of the Police Station - and Bica's answer "the police department has established foot patrols hourly - as case load permits"!  Right......................maybe in between going to Dunkin Donuts and meeting at Havre's Woods!