Originally posted on August 30. Updated on October 3 with video and new meeting date.
FRAMINGHAM – Framingham resident Marcia Sharpe served for six years with the U.S. Army National Guard’s 101st Quartermaster unit.
But Wednesday, she told Framingham Police and the Mayor of Framingham she was “scared” to get out of her car one night. She said she saw a person coming towards her vehicle and was scared.
She told acting Police Chief Steven Trask, Deputy Police Chief Lester Baker, and Lt. Harry Wareham that her neighborhood is not as safe as it once was.
She said it “pains my heart,” and the crime in her neighborhood also is “disturbing her sleep.”
Almost 65 residents and business owners attended a meeting on downtown Framingham yesterday morning in the Blumer room at the Memorial Building. City Councilors George King, Dennis Giombetti, Cheryl Tully Stoll, Judy Grove, and Mike Cannon attended the meeting also.
Sharpe said she was coming home from the gym one night, and when she got home she was so scared she stayed in her vehicle.
Sharpe was just one resident who had concerns about downtown crime.
But residents weren’t the only individuals unhappy with crime and nuisance issues downtown.
Business owners raised concerns about individuals hanging around the newly-installed benches on Irving and Hollis streets.
“If there was a bench in front of Auto brite, we would have jackhammered it away,” he added.
At-large City Councilor Tully Stoll said the City needs to be getting those “benches and planters out of there.”
She said the benches make it very easy for people to congregate.
“I know the problem has gotten worse since they were installed,” she said.
Acting Police Chief Steven Trask said he would look into where the park benches came from and if the city could remove them.
Landlord Robert Forbes, who rents out store space on Hollis Street, said some of his tenants feel unsafe.
“A couple of my tenants have to keep my doors locked because of the problem,” Forbes said. “They’re intimidated with the illegal activity going on, with the panhandling and the aggressiveness. We need to find a solution for where these people can be provided an outlet that is not suffering downtown.”
Businesses and residents asked Police leaders, Mayor Spicer to work with South Middlesex Opportunity Council (SMOC), to do more to fix the problems.
“Enforcement action alone is not going to solve this problem,” said Lt. Wareham, who commands the Department’s traffic and safety division. “We aren’t going to arrest our way out of loitering downtown.”
Lt. Wareham said one “hot spot” downtown was the Framingham One Stop Market on Irving Street, which had 277 calls for service last year, including assault and public drunkedness.
“As a police department, we’d obviously like to get that under control. It draws from our limited resources,” said Lt. Wareham.
Mayor Spicer said the downtown issues “not be solved overnight… and not be solved alone.”
Acting Chief Trask said he would hold another meeting to discuss solutions in late September.