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ONLY ON 3 UPDATE: City removes benches blamed for trouble

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Last month we asked the City of Wilmington about benches in front of a downtown gas station. The store’s owner said the seats had become a gathering place for trouble.

Now they are gone.

In a story you saw ONLY ON 3, we told you about New Hanover County 911 receiving more than 100 calls about problems here at the corner of N. 3rd and Red Cross streets just in the past six months alone.

“We have heard several complaints in that area, and we had our police department look at it and determine if they thought there might be an issue. They did in fact think that the benches were causing homeless individuals to congregate in the area,” city spokeswoman Malissa Talbert said. “We thought it would be best to go ahead and remove those just in terms of public safety, so we did that.”

3rd Street Family Fare owner Ash Tilahun did not want to go on camera, but he says until Monday he was concerned for his customers’ safety. Now he says they are free of that problem.

He says it is an unfortunate circumstance for those using the benches properly. But after calling 911 a number of times for people being drunk and fighting at the benches or intimidating customers at the pump, he said something had to be done.

This is not the first time benches have been removed for this problem.

“We have removed them in one other place downtown on Front Street,” Talbert said.

Talbert says she does not know how much it cost the city to remove the benches, but she said it was done in-house, so the cost should be minimal.

More: continued here

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