Town meeting set to discuss 'travelers'

    The city of Ashland has set a "listening session" to gather information and comments about the situation with transients in downtown areas, which reportedly has increased through the summer.

    Most of the people lingering in the Plaza area and nearby are younger and evidently passing through the area, unlike the town's longer-term homeless population, so the terminology to describe them varies.

    Some call them "travelers." The headline of the city media release announcing the meeting calls them "the people passing through."

    The council, the statement says, has received numerous complaints about people hanging out downtown and by Exit 14, "in unusually large numbers, sometimes behaving in ways that clash with the friendly and respectful life-style that is an integral part of what this community is about."

    Complaints have also appeared on travel websites, with some commenters saying they would not return to Ashland due to the behavior of some of the street people, including aggresive panhandling and saying things that made female strollers uncomfortable.

    The meeting is set for 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28, in the Ashland City Council chamber at 1175 East Main St. Mayor John Stromberg and Councilor Stefani Seffinger will host.

    They hope to hear from attendees about:

    1) What behaviors have you found problematic, threatening, intimidating, dangerous, etc.? 

    2) What can you tell us about the people causing these problems?

    3) What suggestions do you have for how to cope with the situation?

    Editor's note: A related item — a Council Corner column by Councilor Greg Lemhouse — appears in the Voices section

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