Fence erected to halt loiterers at Enoch Pratt

June 11, 1994|By Melody Simmons | Melody Simmons,Sun Staff Writer

In a move to thwart loiterers, a 1-foot high ornamental fence has been erected on the ledges in front of the Central Enoch Pratt Free Library, in the 400 block of Cathedral St.

The gold-colored steel railing has a Victorian design. Averil Kadis, a library spokeswoman, said the fence is meant to halt loitering by vagrants, schoolchildren and people waiting for buses. Loiterers often sat on the ledges in front of the library's picture windows on Cathedral Street.

As workers installed the fence in front of the picture windows Thursday, it drew angry comments from people standing across the street outside Our Daily Bread, a soup kitchen where homeless people congregate.

"It was one of the last places in the city to rest," said Donald Chandler, 44. "After eating a meal, you want to sit down and smoke. This is a matter of the city not taking care of its problem -- the homeless and the hungry aren't going to disappear."

The fence is part of a $20,000 effort to make improvements to the Pratt's main branch and 28 smaller neighborhood branches, said Dr. Carla Hayden, the Pratt's director. The money was raised through private donations.

Other branches will receive window boxes for colorful blooms and bright banners welcoming book lovers to the city's libraries, she said.

"We have found that a lot of people are intimidated by big stone buildings," Ms. Hayden said. "They think it is a big temple of knowledge, and it is, but we want to soften the effect."

Ms. Hayden said she has asked employees of the main branch not to take cigarette breaks in the front of the building because the image of them standing outside smoking has a bad appearance. There are also plans to invite local designers to create original displays in the windows.

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