Other great tools to reinforce the panhandling ordinance: Loitering signs and criminal trespassing complaints work, too. Call your alderman and the police; they respond!
The proposed panhandling ordinance is wonderful. Read the entire ordinance on our Web site Online Exclusives section, www.rockrivertimes.com.
The Rock River Times, 128 N. Church St., has been confronted with the homeless and panhandling problems for more than a decade in its immediate vicinity.
We are the property managers for the quarter of a block building complex that houses our business at the corners of Church and Mulberry, consisting of seven storefront businesses, two large garages, a rooftop garden and six apartments on the second story. After four years of our management, we have 100 percent occupancy.
Last year, owner Gautam Gupta and Church Street Properties won the River Districts Heart of Rockford Awards for Residential Restoration for these Arts and Crafts, market-rate apartments.
As we have worked to improve the quality of life in the River District through the years, homeless people have slept in our doorways, littered, urinated and defecated all around the building, harassed and solicited our renters, customers and just about anybody passing by on our sidewalks.
Now, we dont have much of a daily problem, like we used to when we first moved in 11 years ago. Why?
Because we asked Ald. Doug Mark (R-3)for a trash can (more are coming) and No Loitering signs all around our building. He responded quickly. Because we call the non-emergency line of the Rockford Police Department, 987-5800, every time, without exception, and press 2 to report a non-emergency crime, whenever we see loiters or panhandlers. We are very polite with the 911 operators and realize violent crime and accidents must be responded to first. The word gets around on the street that problem people are not welcome here. Some individuals, however, just dont get the message for one reason or another.
When they will not go away and continue to sit in our windowsills, sleep in our doorways or enter our businesses, we sign a blanket No-Trespassing Order against that individual. The police keep it on file and really work with us. Monday, Sept. 19, we had one of those individuals arrested, and we will continue to sign the complaint every time he trespasses.
We wish to thank the great response of Deputy Chief Michael Booker and the enforcement of officers John Gradick, Jason Dobran and Eric Boettcher. Theyre great! These officers and those on the bike and foot patrol will help you if you ask. But you have to ask and support them, like they support you. Thanks again, to the Rockford Police Department and Chief Chet Epperson for their good work and proactive policing in our neighborhood.
All the residents and businesses of Church Street Properties also wish to thank Mayor Larry Morrissey, City Attorney Jennifer Cacciapaglia and the City Council for the new panhandling ordinance, which addresses a problem that has existed for decades in our area. Good work! You have responded to citizens concerns and acted on those concerns. Were on the move; lets keep going.
Now lets get those trash cans everywhere, the parking decks lighted signs up, and these one-way streets turned back into two-way streets. Those tasks can be completed relatively quickly.
From the Sept. 20-26, 2006, issue