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Ordinance could help restore city to its former glory

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By Alice Du Pont

Quincy city commissioners are considering an ordinance that will limit people who set up shop on the sides of the road and conduct whatever kind of business that strikes their fancy. I, like Commissioner Derrick Elias, think that the city looks raggedy.

When I travel, one of the things I like to do is get off the interstate and travel back roads. I have come upon some of the most interesting and pretty little towns throughout Florida since I started getting off main roads about 10 years ago. But never have I seen anything like what has started to spring up in Quincy along Jefferson Street in the past year.

I know times are hard and people are coming up with ways to supplement their incomes or raise money for a charity or whatever. It is disturbing to me that people just set up anywhere and sell stuff from food to furniture. There seems to be no limit.

In a particular parking lot west of town, people have made a sort of impromptu flea market. It's common to see clothes hanging from tree branches, piles of clothes haphazardly thrown on tables and other items spread all over the ground. About three weeks ago people were set up from one end of the parking lot to the other. It looked nasty.

Nobody wants to hurt a family who wants to have a yard sale in their front yard occasionally. But these people are set up every weekend in the same spot selling everything. I don't think they should be allowed to find any tree or any spot in the city and open a weekend business. The new ordinance, I hope, will encourage them to sell at consignment shops or open a thrift store. No one, especially me, wants to have to look at this junk every time they leave their houses on Friday or Saturday.

It's bad enough that those big green and blue garbage cans are on the sidewalks downtown. I'm willing to bet a dollar that no other town the size of ours, that touts is beauty and elegance, would have garbage receptacles decorating downtown sidewalks. Can anyone think of a solution for these eyesores?  

Then we have the folks who decide they are going to sell food. I'm not talking about kids having a car wash and selling a few hot dogs (some of that has gotten out of hand, too). A few weeks ago while riding down Jefferson Street a block from city hall, I saw a group of people selling fish. They had about four coolers and a fish cooker set up on a slab of pavement. To advertise, a young man was standing near the street holding up a whole mullet. Others were sitting on top of the coolers. That was a terrible sight. If I was passing through Quincy, I wouldn't stop.

I'm not sure whether the ordinance addresses car washes. It appears that sometimes people  wake up one morning and decide they want to wash cars. They bring out water hoses, dish detergent and car wax and they're in business. City streets are blocked when because people are using half the street to wash cars. Not to mention all of that run-off of oil and other pollutants.

Many cities have street vendors which have become an asset to the city scape. In the July issue of Bon Appetit, street vendors in Seattle, Wash. were featured. The article stated that the street vendors have begun to draw hundred of diners into the city each night.

But that's a far cry from what we have in Quincy and hopefully the ordinance will help us return our city to its former beauty.