Historic City News found a number of homeless people who call the plaza their “bed for the night” but were awakened this morning to the sounds of heavy equipment and city workers beginning the process of readying the market for its new role.
Before this morning, the perimeter of the market building was lined with a hedge which partially obstructed the view of transients sleeping on the ground behind them. Not any more.
In response to complaints that were aired by citizens who attended Monday night’s city commission meeting, city management acted quickly to remove the shrubs that bordered the plaza market.
Complaints alleged that “bums” in the plaza were relieving themselves, among other things, between the market building and the hedge. City workers had been required to remove feces and clean up urine left behind by the vagrants.
We stopped to interview several onlookers who had been sleeping earlier in the market building to hear what they had to say about the complaints and the city’s reaction to them.
“This is a bad idea” said one of the homeless men. “The bushes were growing pretty good”.
A man, who said his nickname was “Law”, told us that he heard they were going to plant flowers where the shrubs were and another onlooker said someone told him they were moving the shrubs in order “to put up a fence”.
Scott, another of the homeless men, said “I’m concerned about the rain.”
Scott says he gets to the plaza at about 6:00 each morning and sleeps most of the day. He didn’t say what he did all night. “The rain is going to splash up on the sides where I sleep, now” Scott told us.
I asked the men about people relieving themselves behind the bushes and all of them said they had witnessed it before.
“Pulling out the hedges isn’t gonna’ stop that”, Law said. “Hell, one woman squatted right in the middle of the floor”. Scott said “They pee right on the columns” and he asked me, “Who wants that where you’re gonna’ sleep?”
Law told us that when he catches people doing that, he and the others “run them out of the plaza”.
I asked where else people sleeping in the market would go to the bathroom and Scott said “The marina bathrooms are open 24-7, except when they close them for cleaning”. Law said he would rather use the bathrooms in city hall, “because they’re air conditioned”. Another man said “They have bathrooms at the Government House”.
One of the men corrected me and said “I don’t sleep here, I have a motel room” as he unrolled his bedroll and lay down next to one of the columns.
I asked the men why people would expose and relieve themselves in public — the way it was described in Monday night’s meeting. Scott said, “They’re either too drunk or too lazy to go across the street”.
I asked, “Too drunk at 6:00 in the morning?” He told me, “Yup”.
Photo credits: © 2009 Historic City News staff photographs