COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Businesses in Franklinton are fed up with the amount of panhandlers that are surrounding their workplaces day to day.
Business leaders and their neighbors are meeting on Wednesday to make changes in the Franklinton community. One of those leaders, Playful Pets owner Steve Faulkner, said he enjoys seeing the Franklinton sign standing tall for everyone to see coming off the freeway but wishes the garbage surrounding the landmark would disappear.
“There are several camps, and I’m talking dozens, along the railroad tracks just north of pretty much the entire border of Franklinton,” he said. “There’s a lot of foot traffic pretty much continuously in front of my business. The risk that poses is confronting customers, approaching costumers, making them feel unsafe.”
Faulkner said Franklinton is emerging as a place for upcoming businesses. But he said the area is being held back by these issues.
“They have no place else to go; this is their restroom for all intents and purposes. And that’s very unsettling and it’s gross,” he said.
Trent Smith, executive director of the Franklinton Board of Trade, said this has been a problem in Franklinton for a long time.
“This is not something new but what we are seeing right now is an increase in the severity of problems and we think largely driven by the opioid epidemic,” he said. “The most prevalent problems that are problematic are the loitering, the panhandling, a lot of public intoxication. Often these folks will urinate on a building and defecate in a parking lot.
“This meeting is really intended for stakeholders in Franklinton. Whether you’re a business owner or a resident… we want to hear from those folks.”
After Wednesday night’s meeting, officials hope to present their findings to the city and come up with a plan on how to address their issues.
All business owners and residents in Franklinton are being encouraged to attend Wednesday’s meeting. It begins at 6pm at LifeCare Alliance, 760 Harmon Avenue.