by Jon Megas-Russell, Marketing and Community Relations
In September a group of concerned community members, businesses, and non-profits met to discuss solutions to the downtown panhandling issue. The Chief of Police, Executive Director from Groundworks, representatives from Main Street merchants, the Co-op, and community members were present. The police have created a community outreach team with social workers, police, and members of Brattleboro Memorial Hospital and Turning Point to start talking with, directing to services, and collecting information on our fellow town folk who hang out in the downtown area near Dottie’s, Flat Street and beyond.
This team will also meet with a group from Gloucester, MA who has worked hard on these same panhandling and addiction issues to see how we can start working to guide this group of folks to recovery and support services, all with dignity. Also, the Town Manager and Groundworks Collaborative will be meeting with some people from Portland, ME to learn about a job program that has been helpful in their community.
The Co-op is intimately involved in these conversations and will support the work of those involved. Please note that holding a sign and asking for money is protected under 1st Amendment rights. However, it is considered disorderly conduct and illegal for someone to actively request money while you are at a parking meter, getting out of your car, or at an ATM. You may soon notice PSA’s around town alerting patrons and shoppers. We will share more information as it becomes available and we welcome you to stay abreast of updates via the Select Board, through BCTV, and iBrattleboro.