Beggars beware

Most of the services and products any neighborhood needs can be found in our local shopping district centered around the intersection of Bessemer and Summit Avenues.  Among the many businesses in the area are shoe stores, Radio Shack, a record store, several restaurants (including my favorite – Mayberry’s), several car dealers, a great family market (Bessemer Curb) and traditional grocery store named Conley’s (that is not doing well, more on this later).

Anyone who frequents the area knows they can get most everything they want within a block in either direction of the intersection.  They also know they can get something they often-times don’t want – solicitation by panhandlers.  Over the past couple of years the area has become a beggar magnet and it has hurt business for merchants.

In response to this problem and to promote the area the merchants around here recently formed the Bessemer/Summit Merchants Association.  Spearheaded by Burgess Management Group who leases Summit Shopping Center, the association has not only become active in their immediate area, but also have aligned themselves loosly with the Aycock Neighborhood Association whose residents are some of their best customers.

To combat the vagrancy and panhandling that drives cutomers away, the merchant’s group has partnered with the Greensboro Police Department and other governmental agencies to apply a full-court press to the problem through the development of an operation named Bessemer and Summit Enhancement (B.A.S.E.).

In a press release yesterday, the police announced that for a three month period, starting June 1st, this inter-departmental B.A.S.E. effort will, “use education, police visibility, and enforcement to stabilize commercial / business properties and shopping centers from the 700 to 1200 block of Summit Avenue, as well as the 700 to 1200 block of East Bessemer Avenue.”

 To my knowledge, this operation will be the first concerted effort that will utitlize Greensboro’s relatively new, and controversial, peddler licensure ordinance.  Tax revenue officers will be utitlized in conjunction with police officers:

During the three month period, police community resource team officers, along with tax revenue officers, will educate the public, business owners / managers, and potential violators on local ordinances pertaining to panhandling, solicitation, and privilege license.   To catch violators of the ordinances, foot and bike patrols, as well as undercover officers will be used.  Tax revenue officers will be on-site to examine panhandlers’ documents for proper licenses.”

This is a welcome and much needed operation.

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