BELEN, N.M. (KRQE) – A Belen couple who own several properties across the city said the increase in homelessness at one of their businesses is posing a major safety risk. Now, after taking matters into their own hands, nearby businesses said they’re on the fence with the couple’s decision to put up a gate.
Sheryl and Darrell Green who own the property at 221 South Main Street said, with several close calls in the alleyway next to their property, they decided blocking access to a portion of it would help solve their problem.
“We want safety for our clients because they have to come through here to get to our businesses,” said Sheryl Green.
The Greens said the recent increase in homelessness has left them no choice but to restrict access to a portion of the alley between Castillo and Didier Avenues.
“We’ve had numerous amounts of vandalism, people sleeping on the hallway of our building as recently as April 6th, trying to start a fire outside the gate,” said Darrell Green.
Although the gate would restrict public access to a portion of the alley on the south side, both the north and west sides of the alley would remain open. However, nearby businesses said they are against any type of restrictions.
“We are a cash-only business, so we deal with a lot of money. Banks and other companies will go through the back to collect the money because when the gate is closed it makes a block,” said nearby Cowboy Verde Dispensary spokesperson.
While some raise public safety concerns, both Belen’s Fire and Police chiefs said the gate isn’t much of a problem.
“Anything that we can do that would limit access to personnel that are going in there and camping and stuff would be a benefit to the police department as well as the citizens of Belen,” said Belen Police Chief James Harris.
In a tie-breaking city council vote on Monday, Belen Mayor, Robert Noblin voted to keep the gate, leaving it open during business hours. The Greens would be able to lock the gate after hours and on weekends but would require to give a key to every business in that area. The Greens said they want to appeal the council’s decision and request a full closure of that portion of the alleyway.