Hostile landscaping? Area city installs features by bus hub to fight loitering, incivility

Some U.S. cities use fences, walls or other features to discourage people from sitting or sleeping on them.

The city of Dayton is finishing landscaping work around a major bus hub as part of an effort to prevent people from loitering and causing problems downtown.

Cities across the nation have installed “hostile architecture” in some public spaces to try to curb unwanted activities like loitering, sleeping and skateboarding.

Hostile architecture can be fences, walls or other features designed to discourage people from sitting or sleeping on them.

Dayton last year hired Grunder Landscaping Co. to install raised concrete flowerbeds and make other “beautification” upgrades to a section of Jefferson Street immediately south of the RTA’s Wright Stop Plaza Transit Center.

For years, large groups of people have gathered in front of a couple of storefronts on Jefferson Street, which sometimes has led to problems. Dayton police have responded to many calls for service about disturbances and public safety concerns near and around the transit hub.

In September, Dayton installed temporary metal fencing there to help manage loitering and “incivility activities” that were regularly occurring in front of the businesses on that block, said Fred Stovall, Dayton’s director of public works.

The temporarily fencing successfully reduced unwanted activities, city officials said, and Grunder Landscaping is nearly done installing permanent landscaping beds with fencing that will be low maintenance and hopefully will be a long-term solution.

“The city will be monitoring the loitering and incivility activities very closely to help gauge the impact of the infrastructure improvements,” Stovall said.

Grunder, which was paid about $209,000 for the project, also installed beds full of uneven, sizable rocks and concrete in front of the building and businesses on Jefferson Street, which includes a Boost Mobile and In & Out Restaurant.

Some local leaders said loitering and disturbances near the downtown RTA hub increased when changes in the Dayton Public Schools busing system resulted in more students using the public transit system to get to and from school.

About a year ago, the CEO of the Greater Dayton RTA called the area around the transit center a “hot mess.”

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