NEW BEDFORD — While some of his colleagues on the New Bedford City Council have spoken out against the so-called "spiked cobblestones" installed at the "octopus" intersection to ward off panhandlers, Councillor-at-Large Brian Gomes not only supports the new installation--he wants to make it the standard in intersections across the city.

Ward 3 Councillor Hugh Dunn, Ward 2 Councillor Maria Giesta and Councillor-at-Large Ian Abreu sent a letter to Mayor Jon Mitchell last week deriding the stones as "inhumane architecture," and stating that the city shouldn't be using "City dollars to make others suffer."

Gomes, who has tried to come up with a number of solutions for the panhandling problem in the past, doesn't agree with the assessment of his fellow councillors.

"I find whoever had this idea, it's simply brilliant," Gomes told WBSM News. "And I don't see it as a threat to anyone. We are known for whaling and for cobblestone streets. I think it's an appropriate fit in addressing somewhat of a problem. It won't alleviate the whole problem, but it will give us some relief."

Gomes, who chairs the council's Committee on Public Safety, has filed a motion for tomorrow night's council meeting requesting from Mayor Mitchell and Department of Infrastructure Commissioner Jamie Perry a cost and survey of installing the same cobblestone architecture at other intersections where panhandling has become a safety issue.

"I want to see it in the problem area, such as the Coggeshall Street, Route 195 exit at Market Basket, at the intersection of Route 140 and Route 6, and any other intersection where we could possibly do this median strip, in this manner," he said.

Gomes said once they have an idea of what the cost would be, the City should look into using community development funds, or possible community preservation money, to fund the implementation.

"The reason why I suggest using community preservation money is because, quite simply, these would be preserving our city," he said.

Gomes is also proposing the City consider installing masonary concrete planter boxes atop the "spiked" cobblestones at the intersections, and plant no-maintenance green perennials, "keeping the intersections attractive and welcoming to tourists and city residents."

"I think the cobblestones are beautiful the way they are, but this will just beautify it a little more," he said.

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