If downtown Fayetteville is the golden-haired child of Cumberland County, then the streets right on the outskirts of the historic downtown district are its red-haired stepchildren.
    You have only to drive down the back streets to see that the love and care lavished on Hay Street doesn’t extend very far past its borders. You won’t find business thriving on those side streets, nor will you find manicured Hurley pots or plantings. They are in fact in great need of revitalization and attention.
    The same can be said of Rowan Street. As many of you know, the Up & Coming Weekly’s offices are located on Rowan Street. Being outside of the historic district, Rowan Street does not get the attention that Hay Street does, yet tens of thousands of cars drive down this road every day.
    It is almost impossible to pump gas, stop for a bottle of water or walk down the sidewalk without being accosted by a panhandler. In fact, one of the sights I see daily is a panhandler standing in the center median at Rowan and Bragg Boulevard — his cardboard sign proclaiming his desire to work for food. Oddly enough, just a block over he would be ticketed for doing the very same thing. But, since he is a block over, Fayetteville Police officers simply drive by, ignoring the situation. I’m pretty sure it’s just as dangerous for him to stand there as it is for him to stand on the sidewalks on Hay Street; in fact, it’s probably more dangerous because of the sheer volume of cars that pass by.
    It is that volume of cars that has drawn the Fayetteville Museum of Art to Festival Park and the corner of Rowan Street and Ray Avenue. The museum sees the occupants of those cars as potential visitors and members, which begs the question: Does the city see the importance of those people?
    Because it seems to me if the city did understand the importance of those people and the impact the appearance of Rowan makes on them, they would put a little more effort into policing and maintaining the area. This became very apparent to me as I walked down the Ray Avenue sidewalk to Fayetteville After Five last Thursday.
    {mosimage}The sidewalk was littered with little brown paper bags; you know, the kind people sip beer or wine out of. The vine-covered wall that borders Ray Avenue was littered with used soft drink containers and broken wine bottles representing Mad Dog, Boones Farm and Wild Irish Rose, just to name a few. The wrappers of snack papers also littered the area. Keep in mind; this is the sidewalk directly across from the proposed Fayetteville Museum of Art location.
    It seems to me if the city did understand the importance of those people and the impact the appearance of Rowan Street makes on them, they would put a little effort into policing and maintaining the area.
    We know that litter is a big problem in Fayetteville and Cumberland County. However, this particular litter wasn’t thrown out by a passing motorist. This was litter caused by people sitting on the wall eating and drinking alcoholic beverages on a public street. And that’s a huge problem.
    I first commented on this situation following last year’s symphony in the park. My family and I, along with two other families, spent a beautiful afternoon in the park, only to be confronted by two or three drunken panhandlers as we walked back to our cars. It definitely took the shine off an otherwise enjoyable evening.
    We know the problem, but why does it persist? We’ve gotten it right on other streets, now let’s spread it out. Let’s make Fayetteville the city it should be — even if it’s one street at a time.
    PS: Out of courtesy to our readers, I did not mention an array of other debris and items found on the Ray Avenue wall. Use your imagination.
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