Smith County Physical Plant Director Steve Christian said staff will install six new, all-weather benches on the plaza to replace benches removed in September. Christian said the county considered repairing the existing benches but it was more cost-effective to replace them with more durable seating.
“They will be a nice upgrade for the T.B. Butler Fountain Plaza,” he said. “People like to sit outside and eat lunch and enjoy nice days, and these will last.”
The bench style purchased by the county includes an arm rest in the middle of the seating area to deter vagrants from sleeping on them, he said. The city is considering installation of similar benches along the sidewalks, Police Chief Gary Swindle said.
Benches along the sidewalk were removed earlier this year because employees at local businesses were being harassed by vagrants during early and late hours on the square, he said. Swindle said the Parks Department periodically removed benches for maintenance but that the most previous removal were linked to public safety concerns.