City Council approves legislation for security guards at West Si - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

City Council approves legislation for security guards at West Side Market

The experience of this 100-year-old tradition is about to change. (Source: WOIO) The experience of this 100-year-old tradition is about to change. (Source: WOIO)
West Side Market parking lots are often busy and full. (Source: WOIO) West Side Market parking lots are often busy and full. (Source: WOIO)
CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -

Cleveland City Council members are considering putting armed security guards at the West Side Market's parking lots during operational hours. At Monday night's meeting, council voted 15-1 in favor of the new legislation.

Those in favor of the security believe it would make customers feel safer, but those against it feel it may give the market a bad reputation.

"There is a lot of purity here that could be at risk. Customers come and see that, it might scare some people off," said one vendor.

Cleveland police are already inside the market and off-duty unarmed officers patrol the parking lot. The city wants a contractor that will hire off-duty police officers and sheriff's deputies.

In the past, there have been no major safety issues, other than some smash-and-grabs. 

"We just want the West Side Market for everyone to feel safe and secure," said Councilman Kevin Kelley

Not every council member agrees on the concept. 

"Every merchant I spoke to is upset about this," said Councilman Mike Polensek.

The estimated cost would be $86,000, which would be paid by the city for the first six months, then handed off to the vendors. Councilman Joe Cimperman says paid customer parking could follow as an option.

"I think the vendors will realize it's actually to their benefit. If people feel safer. If there is less instances in the parking lot. Some getting windows smashed out and somebody grabbing things off seats," said Cimperman. 

Cimperman says the legislation isn't only about armed guards. 

"It's about improving the parking situation, more spaces and making the market accessible to everyone outside of Cleveland," Cimperman explained. "The merchants were paying a lease for the parking lot. That lease expired last year. That cost was $85,000. So, basically, they are swapping out the parking lot for the armed guards."

Only Councilman Polensek voted against the issue on Monday night.

"I have a lot of questions on this issue. I don't think there was a clear explanation as why it was needed," Polensek said. 

Most merchants we spoke with did not approve of the new legislation.

"I think it's overkill. It's not necessary," said one vendor. 

Claude Andres says he would rather spend the money addressing the issue of juveniles who are out of control.

"Spend more money on educating the younger kids, so they don't turn out like that," he said.

The new security measures are expected to start this December. 

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