Iowa City council votes to replace 20 percent of Ped Mall benches

Published: Jan. 22, 2019 at 9:05 PM CST
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After close to two months of pushback from many people in the community, the city council in Iowa City reached a decision about the new Ped Mall benches.

The city will pay to replace 20 percent of the benches that have center armrests. The fourteen new benches will cost about ten thousand dollars. The city will give another ten thousand dollars to the homeless advocacy group, Shelter House.

The decision wasn't unanimous. City Councilors Bruce Teague and Susan Mims said they'd rather put that money toward directly helping families in need, not encouraging them to sleep outside.

"With the prices that were in the staff memo, ten percent, roughly six thousand dollars, is rent and utilities for six months for a family," said Mims. "I'd rather spend that six thousand dollars helping that family."

Other city councilors like John Thomas and Mazahir Salih said they supported replacing more benches. Thomas asked to replace 30 percent. Salih said, since a lot of the people sticking up for the homeless are also taxpayers, the city should replace half of the new benches.

"We can't satisfy everyone but we can satisfy them as much as we can of the public. That's why it should be fifty-fifty," said Salih. "It would cost us around 21 thousand dollars, which is reasonable."

The council also decided to try to keep as many of the older benches, without middle armrests, as possible.