Resolution calls for more benches in Northampton

Mayor Narkewicz removed all the benches to prevent loitering

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Residents were invited Tuesday night to share their thoughts on the “Vibrant Sidewalks” resolution. The Northampton City Council initially presented that resolution in May of 2013 after Mayor David Narkewicz removed all the benches in downtown Northampton, and then returned half of those benches.

There have been heated discussions on how the sidewalks should be used. Some argued benches encourage loitering and panhandling in front of stores on Main Street, but others said people need places to sit and rest while enjoying the downtown area.

Juliana Dupre of Amherst said, “I don’t get over to Northampton that much because they don’t have that many benches. My next birthday I’ll be 70 and I like to sit down a lot and I like to walk a lot. It’s always nice to be able to walk longer, just sit for 5 to 10 minutes and walk on.”

“So what, if people loiter? It’s Northampton and those of us that live here we are used to it, but it is really nice to have somewhere to sit and enjoy the nice weather and take a load off your feet for a minute,” said Nicole Baird of Northampton.

“Benches for me would mean that I can bring business to Florence because I can shop here again,” said Ruth McGrath of Florence. “Same thing with Northampton because with benches I can get around a lot better.”

The “Vibrant Sidewalks” resolution calls for more “street furniture” and says “not every activity on a sidewalk is comfortable.” The City Council will review the resolution at their next meeting.

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