CLEVELAND - The plan to pay for armed guards at the West Side Market passed by a vote of 15-1 at Monday's Cleveland City Council meeting.
Cleveland's iconic West Side Market is a place where people feel you can get anything: from a huge $3.00 watermelon, to a $5.00 delicate bouquet of flowers.
But what most folks who shop here don’t feel it is unsafe.
So Cleveland City Council's plan to spend $86 thousand to add armed guards in the parking lot leaves them wondering why.
“Every time I come down here I feel safe.” Brandyn Armstrong said. “I think the city should take those tax dollars to protecting all the children.”
Lisa Krych agreed, “West Side Market City of Cleveland, it's wonderful it's a great place to no need for it no need for it at all.”
And merchants in the market also want to know why.
Diane Dever says the merchants already have security at the market.
There are off-duty Cleveland officers here, a video surveillance system and an unarmed guard in the parking lot.
Dever said armed guards will cost $86 thousand and she fears that the money will eventually come out of the tenants' fees charged by the city.
In other words, they feel they're paying for a problem they don't have.
“The problems seem to be happening later at night not when the market is open,” she said.
So why does Cleveland City Council feel that the added security is necessary when the tenants and many shoppers don’t think so?
At council's finance committee hearing, the city said it is adding more security because it fits in with an overall plan to enhance the market and the area around it.
That plan includes better security at all hours and making the market one of the many anchors of a resurgent neighborhood.
“It's really a plan to modernize the West Side Market and how operations happen...it's going to involve longer hours at the West Side Market. It's not just one thing but a large comprehensive overhaul of the West Side Market.”
The new parking lot security would be let out to a contractor who would then hire off-duty city police officers.
Armed security guards could be in the parking lot by the end of the year.