AUGUSTA — Fundraisers and beggars coming out into city streets to approach motorists for money have prompted complaints and concerns about public safety.

In response, city councilors plan to discuss whether to ban fundraising and begging on streets, and possibly also sidewalks.

Police Chief Robert Gregoire said police have received complaints from residents about aggressive solicitors of money, whether for an organzation or for themselves, coming out into traffic in their pursuit of cash — sometimes at busy intersections.

“We have had complaints about panhandling, especially people coming out into the roadway, approaching vehicles,” Gregoire said. “That causes concerns for their safety, and the safety of others.”

Gregoire said some councilors said they have also heard complaints about the practice.

Even so, Gregoire said he has not made a recommendation on the matter, and is simply providing information to councilors.

Councilors are scheduled to discuss the issue and whether to ban people from begging on city streets and sidewalks at their meeting Thursday. Councilors meet at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers at Augusta City Center.

They are also scheduled to discuss placing restrictions on where some sex offenders may live in Augusta.

Gregoire said state law allows municipalities to adopt ordinances prohibiting certain sex offenders from living within 750 feet of a public or private elementary, middle or high school, as well as “municipally owned property where children are the primary users.”

The law would apply only to sex offenders convicted of a felony offense against a person under 14 years old. The law would not be retroactive, Gregoire said, and thus would apply only to registered sex offenders who change residency after an ordinance is in place.

Gregoire, in a memo to city councilors, said there are 28 municipally owned parks in Augusta, though some might not be places “where children are the primary users,” so sex offenders would not be excluded from living near them.

About 160 registered sex offenders live in Augusta, according to a search of the state’s sex offender registry.

Councilors on Thursday also are scheduled to discuss:

  • a surveying and engineering proposal for a plan to rebuild part of downtown’s Market Square;
  • accepting the donation of a 1917 White-Kress firetruck. Fire Chief Roger Audette said the truck, now owned by Thomas Maclay, of Vermont, was purchased new by the city in 1917 and was the city’s first motorized firetruck. Previously, fire equipment was moved by horses.
  • the search for a school superintendent to replace current Superintendent Cornelia Brown, who submitted her resignation, effective Dec. 31;
  • a committee recommendation to sell several pieces of vacant land acquired through nonpayment of taxes;
  • upcoming construction to improve Bond Street; and
  • Safe Routes to School and other grant applications.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]


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