A voicemail to Gainesville City Hall from a South Main Street business owner frustrated over finding someone had again defecated at the entrance to his business has prompted the city to investigate.
Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe, who received the voicemail earlier this week, said he has asked the city manager, the police chief and code enforcement to look into the problem as quickly as possible.
“This is a very unusual circumstance,” Poe said. “It’s not like something we deal with frequently or anything like that.”
It’s unknown who has been defecating at the front and back doors of the business, but the culprit needs to be found and held accountable, Poe said. The business owner asked his name and the name of his business not be used.
Charley McWhorter, the general manager of SoMa Art Media Hub, said he has seen a person defecating near a hose at Milam Funeral Home and Cremation Services on South Main Street. He said the person was in plain sight of people walking and driving by the business.
“It’s possible that it’s happening at Citizens Co-op,” McWhorter said. “I’ve walked in there before and smelled urine in the doorway.”
While it’s not clear if a homeless person is the culprit, every morning there is a line of homeless people sleeping against the walls of the businesses on South Main Street near the St. Francis House.
McWhorter said he knows a lot of these individuals walking around downtown suffer from mental health issues and may feel like they are left out of getting services or help from organizations.
“I’ve personally witnessed incidents where people have lost their tempers because they have not been treated well by a local business owner or they feel left out of society. People (are) walking by them with food in their hands coming from lunch going back to their office downtown,” he said.
Public restrooms are open near downtown Gainesville but are subject to availability, Poe said.
Ed Gable, the city facilities management manager, said the public restrooms in Bo Diddley Plaza have been renovated, and there are public restrooms in the City Hall lobby.
Bo Diddley Plaza is open daily from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Gainesville City Hall is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday.