Panhandlers have free speech rights, Wyoming's City Council acted last night to balance that with public safety.
There was final reading of a section of the City Code regarding begging or panhandling. City Manager Curtis Holt said "if we can keep them out of traffic, specifically that's one of the areas where we can create some better safety." Those looking for assistance have to stay 15 feet from bus stops, the front of buildings and any motorist or person in line to enter a business or building. Holt told WOOD Radio to check the solicitations on roadsides is a key element of this action. "It's a serious problem for us. We've recently had a couple of accidents in this regard so we're trying to hopefully make it safer."
The Council also okayed an agreement to place median cable barriers on the portion of I-196 running through town. Holt said regardless of what motorists might think about the devices and the damage a car might receive by contacting the cable, the State will get its money whether Wyoming approves or not. "You've seen (the system) in different areas of the state. Our share of that project cost is about $5,300." The City of Wyoming appropriates money when MDOT approaches them for match money, Holt said "Act 51" funding that supports local transportation work can be tapped to cover costs in non-compliant communities.