OPINION|Chris McCarthy: City Using Medieval Tactic on Panhandlers
The City of New Bedford has constructed a stone barrier to obstruct people from standing on a traffic island on Route 6. The island is now an ankle breaker.
New Bedford has the same issue with panhandlers every city in the state has with them. Nobody wants to see people on the street begging for money, and it is a frustrating situation for elected officials. The cause of panhandling is multi-dimensional, and often a result of mental illness and addiction.
The island at the Route 6 "octopus" intersection is a magnet for panhandlers in the last few years. Like any retail operation, the panhandlers need a high traffic count for success. The multiple traffic islands at the location make it a perfect place to stand and ask the public for money. The New Bedford firefighters use the same location to collect donations for charity.
Now, nobody can use one of the traffic islands at that location, because the city has torn up a flat pedestrian surface and replaced it with a medieval stone structure. The city has placed cobblestones at an angle and secured them in cement. The result is a series of stone blades that are dangerous to cross, and impossible to stand on.
Building dangerous structures in the city is a bad idea. It would be safer, cheaper and more honest to string razor wire across the traffic island.
In addition to being dangerous, they will also be useless in the long term. The panhandler's solution is to just place a board over the stone blades, and it converts back to a usable surface.
The weather will also break the stones and cement down rapidly. The deep gullies between the stones will collect rain, snow, and ice, and the melting and freezing cycles will destroy the cement.
Building this dangerous surface was a bad idea, and I predict it will be gone soon.
Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.