Minn. – The St. Paul City Council voted Wednesday to allow building owners to close skyway links earlier in the evening, finally listening to the safety concerns of business owners and other St. Paul residents.
Previously city regulations required that all skyways in St. Paul be open to the public until 2 a.m., and that has now been loosened to allow building owners to close the connections at midnight, reports the Pioneer Press.
Alpha News reported in May that business owners were attempting to convince St. Paul decision makers to ease regulations on the skyways. They cited problems with small things such as food wrappers left behind, to more serious concerns involving homeless people defecating in the skyways, sleeping in them, and leaving behind used condoms and hypodermic needles. One woman reported that she had a threatening encounter with a homeless man armed with a knife in the restroom of one skyway.
A number of the building owners had asked for the ability to close their doors as early as 8 p.m., reports the Pioneer Press. Among other reasons, this request was turned down due to concerns about the impact this change would have on disabled people attempting to navigate St. Paul, especially during the winter. City Council Member Dai Thao, also a St. Paul mayoral candidate, was the lone dissenting vote in a 6-1 passage of the city’s new skyway codes.
Alpha News also previously reported that some business owners believed that St. Paul police were either ineffective at dealing with incidents in skyways, or entirely non-respondent to them.
Some security changes were also made to the skyway codes, reports the Pioneer Press. Building owners are required to maintain manned video surveillance or have foot patrols, and police officers will no longer have to issue a warning to first time offenders. Instead they will be able to issue citations at their discretion.