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C'ville City Manager Talks City Improvement with Community - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Charlottesville City Manager Talks City Improvement with Community

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Bagels and battling bad behavior were just some of what was dished out Saturday morning at the annual Charlottesville-Albemarle democratic breakfast.

Charlottesville City Manager Maurice Jones met with members of the community to discuss how to improve the city. Jones says the city has received complaints from residents about bad behavior on the Downtown Mall. He says one concern is aggressive panhandling.

"We've increased our police presence over the course of the last three years, all in an effort to try to address what is really a small, relatively small number of folks who are causing some problems," said Jones.

One woman who walks the mall daily says she has been approached for money more than once.

"Partly just as a woman, you know, being approached and there's hardly anyone around and then there's some strange man coming up and asking for money," said Jeanne-Marie Peterson.

The city manager says the city is putting a kiosk on the mall come spring, hoping that it will help provide an extra set of eyes and ears.

"It would be a mobile kiosk that could move from one place to another. It would be manned by either a police officer or one of our ambassadors," said Jones.

Jones says this spring mall-goers will spot ambassadors on the mall. The ambassadors will work in shifts of two and provide additional surveillance and tourist information.

One woman who has lived on the Downtown Mall for more than a decade says she thinks city council's idea of more benches has its pros and cons.

"I would love more seating but it's annoying when the benches are taken up at 8:00 and they sit there all day, becomes annoying to me," said Molly O'Brian.

City council is considering making ordinance changes that would ban people from lying down on the mall. Jones says he hopes the new benches will help with the problem.

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