Downtown businesses concerned over vagrants, panhandlers - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Downtown businesses concerned over vagrants, panhandlers

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ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Albany City commissioners tabled an ordinance to crack down on panhandlers last week, but some business owners say panhandlers are just one of the challenges they face.

"What downtown needs is more support from the government of downtown," said Eric Culbreath with Cool Scoops.

A challenge this business and others frequently see are panhandlers and vagrants, who sometimes disturb their customers.

"Well I seen them and I try to help them," said Culbreath. "I just don't constantly do it because they abuse it.

Jason Warren of Our Daily Bread says more police presence can help fix the problem.

"They've actually came and got us and said 'hey there is someone on your patio.' Every time someone come out their car, they are hitting them up for money. We've had that in the past," said Warren.

The Albany Police say officers are always in the area should a situation arise. They stress that communication is key.

"What we need businesses to know is that if they have an issue, they need to contact Police as soon as possible, because we can't help if we don't know what the issue is," said Phyllis Banks with APD.

Warren says the perception of downtown Albany is another concern.

"Overall downtown is probably one of the safest places there is to be," says Warren.

Meanwhile, officials say they are committed to helping downtown businesses.

"I make sure everybody knows they can call me directly," said Downtown Manager Aaron Blair. "I will come deal with anybody that's down there."

Cool Scoops and Our Daily Bread said they continue to be successful, and the owners don't think panhandlers alone will deter people from visiting downtown Albany.

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