POSTED: Tuesday, October 12, 2010 - 5:43pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, October 12, 2010 - 5:47pm
Square closing from 1:00 to 5:30 in the morning
TYLER - Smith County owns Tyler's downtown square.
So when business owners around it began noticing an increase in loitering, Tyler P.D. asked the county to do something about it.
"It was really Tyler P.D. that came up with it, but we had our sheriff's department do a survey. There were actually people sleeping out there in tents and sleeping bags, so this is our way of protecting our downtown area," said County Commissioner JoAnn Hampton.
Commissioners passed an ordinance to close the Tyler Square every morning from 1 to 5:30, just before dawn. Signs will be posted about the new ordinance and Tyler P.D. will patrol the area and tell people to move along.
Christina Fulsom with PATH says it's just punishing the homeless for sleeping.
"Because they now have this ordinance, people could be arrested and placed in what are already overcrowded jail conditions. I just don't think this is the right solution," Fulsom said.
David Wallace works and lives downtown. He doesn't think the ordinance will work. He says sometimes he walks his dogs on the square early in the morning.
"Sometimes we go over there to walk around. I guess if they close down the square I'll march them over to the commissioners court and let them use that lawn facility since there won't be any place to go on the square," Wallace said.
The Smith County sheriff's office says those patroling the area will use quote: "common sense" when enforcing the ordinance.