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As one of the most traveled pedestrian intersections in Wisconsin, the intersection of State Street and Capitol Square is a colorful kaleidoscope of activity. Other times, an air of discomfort, even menace, invades the space, with groups of people hanging out for hours, some drinking in public, aggressively panhandling, urinating and defecating in nearby doorways and alleys, dealing and using drugs — especially crack cocaine and heroin — and engaging in prostitution.

Despite years of effort by the city and others to stabilize the area, disruptive and criminal behavior still plagues the top of State Street, frustrating business and property owners. Chronic homeless people have long frequented the area. But officials said the more troubling behavior comes from others who congregate where State Street meets North Carroll and West Mifflin streets, drink and use drugs and prey on the homeless.

Some who frequent the area said the biggest problem is a lack of housing and other services, and said the intersection provides a place of community.

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She dismissed well-documented evidence of drug sales and prostitution. They also call out the problems created by throngs of young people who pour out of taverns and cause problems at bar time. Efforts to address problems in the area have included social service outreach, surveillance cameras, special police enforcement, family programming, no trespassing s and physical changes like removing a public art project that consisted of large granite stones used for seating. A bus stop near the intersection was also removed, but the steps have not dissuaded those causing the most trouble.

Mike Verveer, 4th District, who said he has never feared for his own safety in the area but appreciates the concerns of others. Police, who conducted seven special operations in the area in spring, are calling for more physical changes, including removal of more benches and bus shelters. The most costly and dramatic change would reconnect North Carroll and West Mifflin streets — which now end in cul de sacs before continuing along the Square on the other side of State Street — and reopening the intersection to vehicular traffic like the other corners of the Square. Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and Verveer oppose reopening the streets.

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As he approached the area, officers in four squad cars responded to a call about a group drinking beer in the cul de sac on North Carroll Street by the Wisconsin Veterans Museum. Brown greeted several of the people he passed by name. One woman appeared to be recovering from an injury to her eye.

The group included two little boys and two little girls. He took a partly full can of Hamms from him and poured it out. On the other side of the plaza, people hung out and sat on BCycle bikes docked in stations. Brown spotted a familiar man lying in a side doorway of the Historical Society Museum. Past a series of empty storefronts on the block of West Mifflin Street, a small crowd near the front entrance to the Central Library listened to loud music.

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Brown asked the group to turn down the music, and someone did. Although envisioned as a showcase, the intersection has seen problem behaviors for years. But inthe city closed Lisa Link Peace Park for improvements and many homeless people and others who hung out there migrated to upper State Street. Meanwhile, the buildings in the block of West Mifflin Street have remained vacant for the Historical Museum project. More recently, storefronts have emptied in the blocks of State, North Carroll and West Dayton streets in anticipation of the new hotel.

The broad public spaces and benches have become a magnet for people to hang out, while the abutting cul de sacs offer easy access for people to arrive, make connections and leave quickly by car. Nearby doorways, alleys and abandoned storefronts become de facto bathrooms, places to use drugs or engage in other negative behavior, police said. Some homeless who once frequented and slept in the area now spend days at The Beacon day shelter about half a mile away, which opened in October Many others have moved to housing opened by the city and partners on the East and West sides in and You have a population of people at their most vulnerable in a very vulnerable situation.

At the same time, the area has attracted others — some homeless, some not — who police said cause the most trouble. To help give the area a more active feel, the city created food vending sites at the top of State Street for the season. El Grito and Pickle Jar tried the sites but reported problems.

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The upscale Graft restaurant, 18 N. Carroll St. Paul Skidmore, 9th District, whose private security firm, Skidmore Property Services, has 23 employees and contracts with many business and property owners, large and small, in the State Street area. The police have a frequent presence, monitor multiple cameras and conduct special operations, but offenders scatter and those issued tickets often ignore them. Inpolice conducted nine special operations resulting in 45 citations and nine arrests, and another 15 operations last year issuing 30 citations with 17 arrests, Central District Capt.

Jason Freedman said. But Dwayne Golden, who was formerly homeless and likes to socialize in the area, said solutions lie in housing and social services, not police enforcement. Policing has limitations, Freedman acknowledged, noting that people are free to assemble and the city has no enforceable loitering or panhandling laws due to court decisions. Officers must deal with many suffering from addiction, mental health problems, domestic abuse and other challenges, he said.

Police will continue education efforts, outreach to get resources to people who need and want them, advocating for physical changes to the space and special enforcement actions, Freedman said. Downtown Madison Inc. FirstAlert Weather. Pinpoint Digital Doppler.

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