Video: Bus shelters cause uproar in Ravenna


Students riding to Ravenna via PARTA buses do not have shelters to wait in, but city council voted Monday to replace shelters removed in August. Business owners had complained about loitering at the shelters, but many riders protested their removal. Photo by Chloe Hackathorn.

Amanda Crumm, Sean Barie

When obscene language, secondhand smoke and public intoxication mix with public urination, spontaneous fighting and customer complaints, there is a reason 65 Ravenna residents signed a petition asking city council to remove a bus shelter in the heart of downtown, eliminating what had become an everyday problem of loitering and other “undesirable” actions.

Ravenna’s City Council met Monday and passed a proposal that would replace two downtown bus shelters that were removed in August.

Planned locations of new bus shelters in downtown Ravenna

  • One pair on the north and south sides of Main Street near the Salvation Army and First Merit Bank
  • One pair on the east and west sides of Chestnut Street near the U.S. Post Office
  • One pair to replace the previous location south side of Main Street near the Portage County Courthouse
  • One new stop on the north side of Spruce Avenue
  • Source – PARTA proposals

Sixty-five business owners and residents presented a petition to the city council in August asking that the bus shelter and accompanying bench on the north side of West Main Street be removed because of persistent loitering.

Sam Cipriano, owner of Guido’s Pizza in downtown Ravenna, said he signed the petition under the impression that the bus shelters would be relocated. He said there has been a problem with people lingering outside his business for years because of its close proximity to the West Main Street bus stop.

“We have had significant issues with people almost taking up residency in the downtown bus shelters — in particular, the one in front of the courthouse,” said Kelly Engelhart, director of public service in Ravenna. “We felt there were issues on both sides of the street and both needed to be addressed.”

Even though requests were only made to remove the shelter on the north side of the street, within days, both the requested location and the shelter on the south side in front of the Portage County Courthouse were removed.

Soon after the bus shelters were removed, a second petition was presented to city council with 80 signatures, requesting the return of the bus shelters out of concern for the elderly and handicapped people who need to sit and wait for the bus.

Tinker Box owner Bill Pinter said he refused to sign the first petition when asked to because he understands the importance of the bus shelters to residents who ride the bus. He did, however, sign the petition requesting the shelters be returned.

“There was nothing wrong with the way it was,” Pinter said. “It’s nothing that couldn’t have been taken care of with a little bit more monitoring by the police. That is all that should have been done.”

The proposal passed Monday, allowing PARTA to purchase and install six bus shelters to distribute in three locations in downtown Ravenna, Engelhart said. PARTA will be responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the shelters, and the city will only be responsible for securing any right of way and infrastructure costs such as additional cement. Engelhart expects these costs to be minimal.

PARTA offered the city three different designs, varying in size, with estimated costs at approximately $4,000 for each shelter, according to the proposal.

According to PARTA’s designs, the proposed shelters will be smaller than the previous shelters, which will “hopefully limit the amount of people wanting to loiter around them,” Engelhart said.

Pinter pointed out that there are “no loitering” signs in the area, which “should have been enforced,” he said. He is aware that there were some “rowdy kids” hanging out near the bus shelters but acknowledged that is a common issue in many towns.

“That’s a policing matter,” Pinter said. “It has nothing to do with the shelters. That’s just the police not doing their job.”

With the winter season approaching, Pinter said he is concerned about riders not having shelter from the snow and rain, adding that customers have already complained about waiting in the rain for the bus.

Rob Stafford, 40, said he rides the bus every other day but hasn’t been too inconvenienced by the removal of the shelters so far. He said he lives close to the shelters and arrives early with his umbrella in case it rains.

He said he did encounter repeated incidents of the same people sitting in the shelters smoking and didn’t like it, but he doesn’t understand why the shelters had to be removed.

Cipriano said he thinks the shelters should definitely be replaced, “but I think they should be strategically placed in more appropriate areas of town.”

PARTA planning director Bryan Smith said city officials contacted PARTA after they received the petition to remove the shelter on the north side of West Main Street, seeking opinions regarding bus shelter removal. Smith said he recommended that the city preserve the bus shelters because of their high demand by Ravenna’s residents.

Smith said stops are still being made at both locations to serve approximately 1,200 passengers who depend on PARTA for transportation each month.

Contact Amanda Crumm at [email protected].


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Video by Sean Barie