Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Panhandlers and a struggling downtown …

  I noticed yesterday on the window of a downtown restaurant at an MLK Day parade in St. Petersburg, Fla., a reprint of a flyer from the Nashville Downtown Partnership, encouraging people to say “no” to panhandlers. Is this simply being mean-spirited? Perhaps, but retailers know that panhandlers discourage people from patronizing some downtown spots, especially when there are so many suburban options. This is reminder that urban revitalization plans must not be ignorant of the social problems that continue to hinder downtown development. Addressing the problems of crime, drugs, pollution, and panhandling can’t be ignored. They need to be recognized and addressed, especially in those places, such as downtown Nashville and central St. Petersburg, where downtown retailers need all the help that they can get. The flyer also suggests giving bottled water of a gift certificate instead of cash …

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