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OUR VIEW: Drastic, punitive solution in Ravenna

removal of downtown bus shelters creates new problem

Published: August 28, 2013 4:00 AM

After fielding complaints about persistent loitering in bus shelters in the downtown area, city officials in Ravenna took drastic action to remedy the situation: They promptly removed both shelters.

The city acted after petitioners complained that the shelter on the north side of West Main Street had become a gathering place for "undesirables" -- their term, not ours -- and urged action to put an end to the situation. Another shelter, located on the opposite side of the street in front of the Portage County Courthouse, also was removed despite the fact that it was not a focus of the complaints.

Some observers have remarked that they've rarely seen such a prompt response by local government.

While those who complained about the shelters may laud the city's action, the "solution" to the problem may have created another one.

The bus shelters -- which were a fixture in downtown Ravenna for more than 20 years -- are gone, but the bus stops served by PARTA remain there. And that means those who rely on public transportation will continue to wait for buses there, but without any protection from the elements.

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Many who ride the bus do so because they have no other means of transportation. The ridership includes elderly people, disabled people, mothers with small children and many who, frankly, cannot afford automobiles.

None of these people, in our estimation, deserves to be stigmatized as "undesirables," a harsh, judgmental term. But all of them, because of the complaints about "loitering," can now look forward to waiting for the bus in the months ahead in rain, snow and cold weather with neither a place to stand nor sit.

That isn't right.

Surely there could have been a less punitive response to the issues raised by the petitioners. Couldn't an occasional police patrol have addressed the loitering issue? If the problem was people sitting in the bus shelters all day long, perhaps the seating could have been removed, leaving a basic haven from the elements.

The answer, it seems, was to punish the innocent for the alleged transgressions of a handful. Those who were so quick to pursue action obviously have never waited for a bus in the rain or snow.

We hope city officials can come up with a better solution, with as much expediency as they showed in their response to the alleged loitering.

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klroach Aug 28, 2013 12:47 PM

What a slap in the face taking down the bus stop shelters to punish the so called "undesirables" was/is a classic case of discrimination. Lets see who used these bus shelters the elderly(that has PAID their fair share of taxes),  KSU college students(future Tax dollars that will not come to Ravenna), and the disabled (i am disabled and pay Taxes, but 2014 my family is OUT of Ravenna)..

So Mayor if your the last one out of Ravenna be sure and turn the lights OFF.

And "Snag" Like When you called me a RETARD.............. This Retard is moving OUT of RAVENNA"


little_r_republican Aug 28, 2013 12:10 PM

Too many undesirables on teh bus....

childofgod Aug 28, 2013 11:52 AM

I think the best answer is to put up MORE shelters, that way there are fewer people per shelter and more people are served. If we have more people in the downtown, then we need to serve them. Isn't that what government is supposed to do? Besides, bus shelters are not expensive considering the service they provide. Even tho many of the bus riders are those who can't afford a car, they're still citizens. And didn't the majority of voters agree to serve their transportation need by voting for a subsidy for PARTA? I believe so. And that local subsidy was multiplied by PARTA when they obtained a Federal subsidy that required local money! So let's take the local politics out of this and let PARTA do their job. Let's encourage MORE people to use public transportation, especially since it's not expensive for the riders, and convenient for local folks. Right now, not enough people use it. It's an expression of a really great plan, that isn't being utilized as it should be. All people ought to use the buses at least once, to let those who need to use it, see that it's OK to ride the bus. It exists for everyone. Let's make it more "desirable" and more "cool" so that older and younger people use it more, rather than having more cars on the road. PARTA provides a great alternative to riding in cars, and for those who have trouble walking.

marky_mark48 Aug 28, 2013 11:34 AM

Bus shelters were not the problem. Loitering is just a sign of a much bigger issue. Eliminating infrastructure that can be a part of the solution does nothing to solve the true problem - Ravenna (and the entire region by default) has a extremely severe economic crisis. However nobody wants to deal with the true problem as that would mean actually admitting there is a problem and having to actually work together for solution. Therefore all the little meaningless things to make it look like something is being done - like eliminating bus shelters. Nothing more then rearranging deck chairs on Titanic. Meanwhile the crisis gets worse and worse and worse...  

redleg6 Aug 28, 2013 11:23 AM

@JMaloney..."undesirable is used for those that aren't spending money near the adjacent businesses".

You are correct, but look at the businesses by the bus stop. Three (3) Lawyer/judges law offices, and a Kids 2nd hand store.

If I were a betting man I'd say it was the Ravenna Chapter of Portage County's Good Ole Boys/Girls Club the "Shysters" that put the pressure on the city to remove the bench/shelters. The word "Undesirable" sound like a term a Shyster would use.

The city should make the petition public! Post it in the Record Courier for all to see.

jmaloney Aug 28, 2013 9:30 AM

Apparently it only takes 65 signatures to achieve certain quick action. Lets face it, undesirable is used for those that aren't spending money near the adjacent businesses. If these transgressors were breaking the law, they should have been dealt with, with the police. They weren't or couldn't be. They aren't criminals

cimmy Aug 28, 2013 9:11 AM

We could take away the city officials cars for the winter and give them snow boots and umbrellas!!! I do understand what the business owners are complaining about, there is alot of unnessary loitering at the bus shelters, people that aren't really waiting for a ride , they use it as their temporary home, which isn't right for the ones that do need it while waiting on the bus!!! I thought there was alittle, free coffee place on a corner close by that they can go to loiter, that way they aren't taking up the bus shelter for the ones really waiting. Absolutely the shelters should not have been taken down!! The ones loitering should have been punished, not the community that needs the bus as transportation to work and back, if those that use the shelters for homes, went out and got a job, they wouldn't have to stand around all day loitering!!!

anonymous_59290 Aug 28, 2013 8:21 AM

Why not put the bus stop/shelter in front of the police station?

Ian_Maserb Aug 28, 2013 6:45 AM

We kill unwanted babies. Why not run the undesirables out of town? Because that would be 70% of the people? I guess they'll just have to stick with colletive punishment. Take all their toys away.