By Charlotte L. Glover
January 07, 2008
I can certainly understand how people would want a dry area with seating to wait for the bus in front of the library. The city is looking for new seating that would allow a person to wait comfortably for a bus without being so spacious as to provide sleeping space.
For decades, the staff of the public library has served the many homeless and alcoholic men and women in our community with backup from the Ketchikan Police Department, Gateway Mental Health, and the PATH homeless shelter. For the most part they are well behaved and go about their routine business, spending much of their day in the library, which is the one of the few public spaces in town open to anyone.
This summer, however, things began to change for the worse. New faces appeared and a core group began to hang out at the bus stop all day long. Drinking and illegal drug use increased, patrons complained about excessive profanity, panhandling and men sleeping and eating in the bus shelter day and night, as well as under and around the library/museum building. The police were being called on an almost daily basis. Inside the library, we were cleaning up vomit and dragging sleeping drunks out of the building. Finally, when school began, parents complained about the safety of their children as well as the behaviors they were observing.
Under the circumstances, the party in the bus barn had to stop and the seats were removed. The situation literally changed overnight. The worst offenders moved on to other locations and/or changed their behaviors.
There is no question that Ketchikan has a homeless problem. It is difficult for all our agencies to treat an alcoholic or street person who does not want help. If you really want to solve the real problem of the library bus stop, contact PATH or the Salvation Army and find out what you can do to help the homeless in our community. Meanwhile, thanks for your patience as we try to find a solution to the bus stop seating issue that we can all live with.
Charlotte L. Glover
About: Charlotte Glover has been the youth services librarian at the Ketchikan Public Library for the past seventeen years.
Received January 04, 2008 - Published January 07, 2008
Viewpoints - Opinion Letters:
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.
Your full name, city and state are required for publication.