Loitering continues to worsen for Village of Lancaster business owner
Diegelman, who has brought this issue to the Lancaster Village Board before, addressed the village board during Monday night’s meeting by reading a letter she wrote about the safety and destruction that has been caused by the biking, skateboarding, and loitering throughout the village district.
“Talking to the village mayor and its board has proven to me over and over again that the dysfunction here in the village district will remain,” remarked Diegelman.
This problem has gotten worse this past year, said Diegelman. The kids, and even adults, who are riding their BMX bikes or skateboards around in the village are running it into the ground, and have been for many years.
“Just take a look around at the beaten up sidewalks, curbs, and buildings,” she said. “The sidewalks are unsafe and intimidating for pedestrian traffic, filled deep with bikes, skateboards, children and adults sitting and laying in doorways and on sidewalks.”
Diegelman mentioned it is also unsafe for cars to park in the area because they could be scratched or damaged.
“The tables that the village disperses throughout the area are a slap in the face to the business owners,” remarked Diegelman. “The village board knows and has admitted that these tables breed trouble. The tables also breed an unwanted crowd that intimidate, barricade and that create loitering around and on top of, leaving their filth and destruction behind.”
“And that’s where the disrespect comes from because they don’t understand how they disrespected me, they disrespected me by placing those tables across the street from me,” she added.
Furthermore, Diegelman said there are kids hanging out in front of the town hall and it has become “disgustingly dangerous to enter.”
Village of Lancaster Mayor Williams G. Cansdale Jr. said the board has been working hand in hand with the businesses in the area, and has even held meetings in regard to where it would be best to place the benches/tables. Village of Lancaster Trustee Edward Marki stepped up and offered to work as a liaison between the village board and those who bike and skateboard in the village.
“I think some of her comments are entirely out of line and they are an inaccurate depiction of the situation as it exists and it ignores the time and money the village board has expended in trying to help her out,” remarked Mayor Cansdale.
Cansdale added that although the board has removed the tables and benches several times it causes an upset to those residents who like to sit down on Central Avenue, but can’t. He also said that the kids are not as bad as they are made out to be.
Diegelman explained it was never her intention to become a toy store owner, but she knew she needed to help the village.
“I was filled with so much hope and passion and was thrilled to be a part of the village and its community, adding value, contributing to the retail business which was desperately needed and desired by the community,” Diegelman said.
But now, Diegelman said she feels violated sick and destroyed. She also has so much fear about the future of the village district and community.
“Some of you might not know where to turn to just like me or have just given up and put the blinders on again, knowing that nothing will change in this village,” remarked Diegelman. “I will try to live with the zoo like conditions and disrespect for a little while longer, but I know eventually in my heart, I know what I must do. I don't approve of this village life any longer and it’s taking a toll on my health. I have a negative feeling and a sadness in me, a loss of hope for a better village.”
Cansdale said he doesn’t understand why she is the only business that has continuous problems and no other business owners have come to a board meeting to speak on this matter.
And although, Diegelman said she doesn’t know what exactly happened, she can only assume that the fresh break in her storefront window has to do with the unwanted individuals in the area.
“I don't have the strength in me to come to work and look at an 11 by 8 foot brown board replacing my window for however many weeks, months it takes to get fixed,” she said. “My display windows are an important part of my business.”
Cansdale said the window isn’t broken. There is a “hair line crack” and most likely due to the fact that with the summer being so hot and the store being air conditioned the window could have easily cracked.
“I think it is really unfair for her to blame the cracked glass on the kids that she has problems with,” added Cansdale.
Overall, to help with the problems, Diegelman would like to see a garbage can placed on West Main Street so the kids have somewhere to put their garbage instead of throwing it all around. Also, move the tables down by the water so the kids are safe in one area and “No Skateboarding” signs on storefronts.
“Basically, what I want to see out of this is for them [the kids/adults] to pick up their boards, get off their BMX bikes and walk them through the village and don’t stand around here and loiter,” Diegelman commented.
“I have to tell people when they leave my store ‘please, look where you’re going because you’ll get hit, because their coming around the corner fast,’” remarked Diegelman. “I want that mayor to come into my store and see how many thousands of dollars of stuff I have in here and see how much of an investment I do have in this village.”
Cansdale said the problem is that these kids have nowhere to go and with the Bryce Buchholz’s Skate Park in the works, he is hoping the development of this park will be the long term solution they need.
“That project is moving forward,” said Cansdale. “We’re looking to this skateboard park.”
Diegelman agreed saying the skate park is going to be great, but when it happens.
“I need something done now,” she said. “I am not just going to sit here and take it. I can’t do that. I can’t. I won’t.”
The next Village of Lancaster Board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 10, in the Municipal Building Council Chambers, 5423 Broadway, Lancaster.