Kingsport alderman opposes controversial bench modifications

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KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – A member of the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen says she does not support recent modifications to park benches designed to deter homeless people from sleeping on them.

This comes after wooden blocks were installed on benches in Glen Bruce Park, the Greenbelt, and other public spaces…a move that turned out to be controversial.

During Tuesday night’s meeting, Alderman Jennifer Adler said it sends the wrong message and apologized for not doing more, even though the issue was not voted on the Board of Mayor and Alderman.

“I own an apology to the citizens of Kingsport. I should’ve asked more questions,” Adler said. “Lots of things happen behind the scenes that never come to vote that we talk about. But I should’ve asked more questions and I should’ve probably offered, I should’ve objected.”

The decision to install the blocks was made by City Manager Chris McCartt’s office, who said the blocks were installed to deter crime.

RELATED: Blocks intended to prevent homeless from sleeping on Kingsport benches spark controversy

Adler wasn’t the only one at the meeting who voiced their disapproval of the blocks Tuesday night.

“They’re someone’s mother, they’re someone’s father, they are probably a veteran that served this country, they’re someone’s child,” Caitlyn Morelock told the BMA. “Everybody needs that help. And to put them into categories of being good and being bad is wrong!”

Mayor Pat Shull said he still thinks the city is going to do the right thing when it comes to addressing homelessness.

“Kingsport is a caring and compassionate community. There’s no doubt about that,” Shull said. “That’s one reason we have a large number of homeless. They were attracted here because they thought they could get help.”

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