Spring Street Parking Ramp users are requesting the City of Jamestown increase safety measures after recent issues of vandalism.
Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene employees attended both the Public Safety Committee and City Council work session to air their concerns.
Carol Wright said she supervises a staff of 45 employees who use the ramp and said she believes they’re fearful of coming into work, “We have absolutely seen the ramp decline in cleanliness, the smell of the ramp, the various people that are in the ramp, more cars overnight that you don’t know what’s happening in those vehicles, if you arrive early morning the ramp is nearly vacant, and so you’re the only person walking around. There certainly have been several instances of people sleeping there or nodding out.”
Wright said while staff are used to dealing with this population she feels there needs to be more surveillance and patrols by police of the ramp because the community is at risk with the current situation.
Another employee, Sarah Zinni, said her car had been vandalized to the tune of $3,000 with windows being smashed in, broken, and damage to the body of the car. She said she’s still using the the ramp, “Which creates a lot of anxiety for me. It’s uncomfortable. Even when I go in at 8:00, 10:00 in the morning, it’s still dark even with the sun out because in the middle of the garage it’s still very dark. And it is just been completely off-putting. It has put so many things on the back burner. I have to pay out of pocket for so many things and I don’t think anybody deserves to do that.”
Jamestown Police Chief Tim Jackson said a meeting was held in November 2022 between the Police, Fire, DPW, Mayor’s office, and Premier Parking about concerns in the Spring Street Ramp. He said the Police Department recommended at that time cameras, better lighting, and signs stressing no trespassing, “On the police side, we said we’re going to do nightly checks as much as possible and daily, patrolling the ramps, which we’ve done. And we continually kick people out of the ramp. They’re sleeping in there. They’re shooting up in there. They’re defecating in the ramp. We cannot hold these people accountable because the signs I recommended on November 21 have still not been purchased.”
Mayor Eddie Sundquist said signs for the ramp have been ordered and quotes for cameras and lighting in the Spring and Cherry Street ramps only came in two weeks ago, “The lowest bid for both lighting and cameras for both of the ramps is $246,498.51. I will say that I’m very sympathetic for some of the things that are going on in the ramps. I do know and can tell you that a lot of the issues we’ve been experiencing in those ramps is from juveniles.”
Sundquist said there’s not currently enough in the contingency fund to use toward the camera and light purchase, so Council will have to decide whether to include the purchase in a pending bond resolution for facility upgrades, use American Rescue Plan funds, or a combination of funding.
Council President Tony Dolce requested Council members review the quotes and consider how they might want to fund the project.