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Ticketing Troublesome Teens in the Loop, Paying to Park and Seniors at Heman Community Center Discussed at Public Budget Meeting

City Manager Lehman Walker says police will start ticketing teens in the Loop who obstruct pedestrians on sidewalks and car traffic.

University City is considering additional measures to curb troublesome teen-agers in the Loop.

At a Tuesday night public budget meeting, City Manager Lehman Walker said at its next meeting, the City Council will take up an ordinance dealing with anyone blocking pedestrians on the sidewalk and or traffic in the street. 

"We're not providing warnings to people anymore. If you don't behave yourself, we give you a ticket," he said. The maximum fine is $1,000.

Walker stressed that the incidents of unruly teens only happened during one weekend and involved some 'bad apples.'  "This past weekend I was down there both nights. It was fine," he said,

Walker said U City is devoting significant resources to ensure that there are no more problems in the Loop. "The Loop is an important economic generator for the City and we can't afford to let a bunch of young folks ruin that."

Walker used the issue of unruly youth in the Loop to speak in support of one of his budget initiatives, charging  a dollar for parking on City owned lots in the Loop.

He said Loop business owners need to realize that it costs the City money to add police officers and implement other security measures. "I'm hoping to convince business people in the Loop and the Special Business District that it can't all be one way," said Walker. "For us to allocate additional police resources costs us money. We have to take them (police officers) from somewhere else and put them in the Loop."

He said business owners can't demand increased security and yet balk at the possibility of charging for parking. "If two of you are going down there for dinner and spending $50.00, asking you for a dollar is probably not going to break the bank."

No final decision has been made on paying for parking in the Loop.

Another one of Walker's budget initiatives is closing during the week, renting it out only on weekends. The problem is, U City seniors use the center every afternoon. Walker said his solution would be to transfer the seniors to.

Walker said a lot of people don't use Centennial Commons during weekday mornings and afternoons.

"From where I sit at least, it's a good opportunity. We have two buildings that are not being well utilized." He said Heman Community Center costs the City a lot of money. It's not energy efficient and during the week other than the seniors being in it, it gets very little use, Walker said. At Centennial Commons senior can use the walking track and exercise machines. Plus, it would costs them nothing to use the facilities.

Walker said at Heman Community Center there really isn't anything for the seniors to do but play cards and eat. "At Centennial Commons there is all kinds of things for people to do," he said.

Walker said he has spoken directly with seniors at Heman and many are in favor of moving to Centennial Commons, although he added a couple seniors oppose the idea.

Some of the seniors like the current location at Heman because they like to walk over to the and . Walker said the City is addressing that issue, and has proposed doing a once a week trip to those stores.

Walker said seniors would still receive hot meals at Centennial Commons. He said they have steam tables there. He said the room the seniors would use would hold up to 100 people, which is plenty of room to accommodate the seniors. He said on a busy day, between 40 and 50 seniors show up at Heman.

No final decision has been made on moving the seniors from Heman Community Center.

If the City does decide to move forward with limiting hours at Heman, Walker said it would happen over the next several months.

"I'm looking at melding the two, but it has to make sense and it does not have to be done overnight," Walker said." I've got enough battles to fight without fighting the seniors."

Other City officials at Tuesday's budget meeting included, Mayor Shelley Welsch and Councilmembers Arthur Sharpe and L. Michael Glickert.

Loren H Grossman April 19, 2011 at 03:35 PM
I operate a businees in the loop. When customers come to my business ,they do not expect to pay $50 for dinner. The expect to pay far less to pick up food to take out or to spend a very short time. They are not about to go through the hassle of paying a fee to park for several minutes. They & many others will go elsewhere or in many cases park on a residential street creating a problem for the residents
Gloria Nickerson April 19, 2011 at 06:58 PM
Seniors, Youth, Loop Parking, Heman Park Community Center and Centenial Commons should in no way be thrown in as a PROBLEM PACKAGE....If the city can't afford to operate the Heman Park Community Center......please consider leasing it to me for 5 (five) years @ $1.00 per year. I would have it open 24 hours per day...including training, workshops, teen events, community events. Youth and Senior from the community can utilize the services as well as others. A great opportunity to hire youth and retirees who want to supplement their income. Just sayin Has anyone thought of the cost to the city to get the lots ready for FEE TO PARK? Are we going to take this money out of the reserves? It is not that the citizens can't make changes.....it how the change is presented....when you say this is it take it or leave it, is a sign of disrespect, let's not forget who pays the salaries of those making choices that we have to live with/adapt to. Property and business owners are a vital part of this equation. Let's be conscious in how we handle these matters...The City has pending lawsuits which are going to have to be paid for.
UCityJim April 21, 2011 at 04:04 PM
Bingo. I go to the Loop three or four times a week. The vast majority of these times, I'm going to pick up Q'doba, Chipotle, a Gyro or some other quick meal or dessert. Further, what's the point of driving to the UCity Farmer's Market to save money if they're going to charge us a dollar to do so. $50 dinners? Maybe once a month. The Loop is our treasure . . . don't screw it up, Mr. Walker. Ever heard of the term "Don't bite the hand that feeds you"?
George Lenard April 21, 2011 at 04:18 PM
On parking, perhaps a reasonable compromise would be to add to the parking by building another pay-only garage on part of the area, and then reserving a significant number of spaces at the south side of the big west lot for free one-hour parking. Street parking on blocks with the most carry-out, short-term business could be limjted to fifteen minutes or half an hour. That wouldn't turn parking into a big revenue source, given the cost of building a garage, but it would help with the problem that sometimes on weekend evenings the existing lots at the west end are full up. Serving the needs of the businesses and their customers must come first; if revenue can be obtained without killing the goose that lays the golden eggs, fine.
3rd Ward Rogue April 21, 2011 at 06:17 PM
I think this charge for parking idea was proposed and passed by Council before Lehman Walker was CM and before the youth problem escalated. Now he may be responsible for the cost of implementing it? Not sure how it all took place, but he may not be fully responsible for imposing this on us and may not deserve all the blame. I do believe he is working within a very limited budget and has to point out the give and take necessary to solve problems.

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