Just last month the Sarasota City Commission in Selby Five Points Park. The city would space benches out to discourage massing of people.
Three new commissioners and a month later, the benches are now slated to be dismantled and removed after a unanimous vote on Monday.
"I feel we’ve reached a critical mass," said newly elected Mayor Suzanne Atwell. "We need to look at what happens over the next few months. What I’m finding is, we’ve reached a level where we need to do something."
Earlier in Monday's meeting three concerned citizens, including Jim Lampl, presented a packet to the commission that showed the spacing of benches did not have the desired result. He showed various pictures of masses of people gathering around park benches.
He requested the city remove the benches for a trial period to see what effects their removal would have.
"Although it's legal to use the benches, [transients] are there for six and eight-hour shifts," Lampl said. "The essentially monopolize the bench for the entire day.
"Even though we've gone from six [benches] down to three, we still have massing," he added. "It really hasn’t cured the problem."
Lampl cited the removal of benches around the shell fountain at Lemon and First Street as an example of how removing benches didn't hurt, but helped downtown.
The commission agreed.
"There is a difference between helping and enabling people," City Commissioner Shannon Snyder said. "[We need] to be going after the enabling part and not affecting the other part."
Commissioner Paul Caragiulo said removing some of the benches has shown some progress but more needs to be tested.
"There has been some progress with some of the benches being moved," he said. "But to fully realize the potential, they would all have to be removed for a period of time."
The City Commission voted 5-0 to removed the benches for a three-month trial period starting when the already goes into effect later this summer.