City leaders remove benches from downtown due to homeless population sleeping on them

Posted at 10:12 PM, Oct 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-14 00:12:14-04

FORT SMITH, Ark. (KFSM) — In a move that’s causing some controversy, Fort Smith city leaders have removed a few benches along Garrison Avenue due to the homeless population sleeping on them.

City leaders have recently made a push to relocate members of the homeless community by clearing out camps in the downtown area. The Hope Campus Homeless Shelter was also built to help with the situation.

An email from a business owner in downtown Fort Smith to Carl Geffken, the city administrator, requested that the benches were removed because the homeless were either sleeping on the benches or leaving trash behind. The email also suggested downtown Fort Smith businesses were being urinated on by the homeless.

“This makes Fort Smith look so unfriendly. They want people to come downtown and shop, but you have not place to sit down,” Hope Campus Shelter Coordinator Greg Pair told 5NEWS.

Greg Pair said he hopes city leaders will take another look.

“We have The Unexpected coming up in a couple of weeks, where are people going to sit? Maybe people need to get together and think this thing out. Maybe we should put public restrooms down there, so these sort of things don’t happen.

The removal of city benches may just be a temporary thing, Geffkin told 5NEWS. He also added the department was only asked to remove the benches from downtown for the next several months.