Public Drinking Mars City Life
I watched in embarrassment and anger to make sure she got back inside without being accosted. The man got up with the help of an equally inebriated female, took about 20 steps and fell down again. Other people helped him up and I walked home with my head spinning over what can be done about this problem of public drinking.
Every day I see this man and up to four others sitting behind Connolly’s fenced-in trash container on East Seventh Street. Starting in the morning, they toss back tall cans of beer, hurling the empties into the bin that holds mattresses and other castoffs from renters in the many apartment buildings nearby. They are trespassing, but they don’t budge even when a worker sweeps up all around them. Their encampment has been cleaned up several times, but there are always more chairs to fish out of the bin and more cinder blocks, buckets and boxes to use for seats.
They think they are out of sight, but anyone looking out the east windows of our building can see them. Looking out the west windows, we can see other drinkers, as few as one or as many as eight, sitting on a curb in Lot 7 or huddled by the Dumpsters behind Scott Drugs. Sometimes police break up the group or they may just move on by themselves.
I ask myself why these sights are so annoying. After all, I could pull the curtains closed or just not look at the drinkers, who also use these venues to relieve themselves in public. As Assemblyman Jerry Green has pointed out, calling police to deal with a passed-out drunk on the steps of a building or one sprawled on the parking lot may only result in an ambulance ride to Muhlenberg, taxing both the Rescue Squad and the hospital.
Over the years I have heard arguments that nothing can be done for these individuals unless they want to change their behavior. We are also told that the best that can be done is to disperse them, knowing they will most likely come back within days or weeks.
It boils down to a quality of life issue. Why should schoolchildren, seniors or anybody have to pass by unruly drunks in a city parking lot or on the street across from City Hall? As we see in the police blotter in the newspapers, other municipalities enforce laws against public urination and open-air drinking. When will Plainfield be able to do the same?