If you want to wait for the bus in downtown Ravenna, you'll have to do so without a shelter.
The city has removed a shelter on the north side of West Main Street in the city's downtown in response to complaints from downtown business owners.
A second shelter, located across the street in front of the Portage County Courthouse Lawn, also has been removed, and the benches that had been inside the shelters also were taken out.
Frank Hairston, spokesman for the Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority, issued a statement that its stops, times and routes have not changed.
While the bus stops belong to PARTA, the city owns the shelters.
"PARTA has placed bus stop signs on the north and south side of Main Street in downtown Ravenna to identify locations no longer identified by bus shelters," Hairston said. "PARTA will continue to service those stops, and times and routes remain the same."
The city had received a petition with about 65 signatures, and the petition complained 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?"
Manfrass said the shelter, which was made to resemble a trolley car, was installed during Streetscape.
Because there is only about 9 feet of sidewalk between the shelter and the window of his building, loitering has been a problem for his tenants.
A previous tenant, who operated a martial arts studio, said parents complained about foul language used by people outside.
Later, the side panels were removed, and since the shelter didn't provide adequate coverage from the rain, people would gather in the doorway of the Kidz Shop in downtown Ravenna during inclement weather.
Bryan Smith, director of planning for PARTA, 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.
"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.
Mayor Joseph Bica said the shelters have been secured and will be "repurposed in other locations at some point." The benches, he said, will be relocated downtown.
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