GREENFIELD, Mass (WWLP) - Northampton is not the first town to remove public benches to curb panhandling and loitering before reinstalling them.
22News spoke with Greenfield business owners and local residents today to see if their bench problems were ever resolved.
Several years ago, then-Greenfield Mayor Christine Forgey, ordered the removal of many of the downtown benches due to an outcry from businesses, and some have been replaced... but strategically placed.
Panhandling, loitering, public intoxication, and drug dealing were some of the original causes to remove benches from certain areas in downtown Greenfield. Some have been replaced at Energy Park, the town common, and in front of town hall.
Owner of Antonio's Pizza, Brandon Long says the benches put in by the town are still a nuisance to his business.
"It's a large group of people that are there continuously throughout the day, always in the way, people actually have to go to the other side of the street because they don't want to walk through the group of people. They don't feel comfortable. So you know it hurts our business and we definitely feel it in the summertime."
Green Fields Market used to have their own public benches that they provided for people, but it became such an issue that they had to remove them. Now they have their own roped off seating for customers that they still get into arguments about with some local residents."
22News asked Steve Roberts, of Greenfield if he thought there were enough benches in town.
"No, all the benches are on the common. They put in seven benches on the common and these are the only two on the street. So naturally people are going to congregate right here."
Many businesses and people 22News spoke with said they feel there are unresolved issues with public benches, and there are two very different perspectives on whether more or fewer benches are better suited for the community.