Ravenna residents, many of whom identified themselves as disabled, asked City Council to put two downtown bus shelters and benches back.
Dianne Kirkbride presented council with a petition with 80 signatures asking that the shelters and benches be restored. That rivaled a similar petition with 65 signatures asking that the shelter on the north side of West Main Street to be removed, complaining that it had become a gathering place for "undesirables."
Within days, the city had removed not only the shelter and bench on the north side of the street, but the one on the south side in front of the Portage County Courthouse.
Kirkbride said the decision was wrong and that there are people who have disabilities who need a place to sit and wait for a bus.
"When bad weather comes, we will need protection from that, too," she said.
Janet Mendiola said that even when the benches were in place, she had a hard time getting people to move, even when she told them she needed a place to sit.
"I don't see how you can let 12 idiots ruin it for everybody," Kevin Buckley said. Buckley, wearing a brace on his leg, told the panel that he had to stand for more than 30 minutes waiting for a bus to take him to a doctor's appointment, and his leg was swollen by the time he arrived.
Councilwoman Amy Michael asked if the police were able to make more patrols to keep a lid on loitering, since she was absent at the meeting where the issue was discussed. Fellow council members told her that police make hourly patrols when time permits.
"My own mother is disabled, and if she were to wait for a bus, she'd have no place to sit," she said.
Mayor Joseph Bica said the Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority has agreed to propose different types of shelters that would protect people from elements and not be as inviting for people to sit.
Once those proposals come in, Bica said the city would act "very quickly" to get them in place.
The city owns the shelters and benches and has placed them in storage, saying they would be put elsewhere in the city. PARTA still owns the bus stops and still makes stops at both locations.
Contact this reporter at 330-298-1139 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook: Diane Smith, Record-Courier