Barbers and cosmetologists who operate along the Merriman Mall were on Friday told to literally clean up their acts if a proposal is to be made to the City Council for them to continue operating at the location.
They had been relocated to the Merriman Mall strip between Light and Cummings streets last year from the pavements of America, Longden, Regent and Croal streets after City Hall had embarked on a cleanup campaign.
In January, however, at a statutory meeting, the council passed a motion giving those barbers and cosmetologists operating at the Merriman Mall until July 31 to find themselves in enclosed spaces.
On Friday, City Mayor Patricia Chase-Green told several of them who turned up at a meeting at City Hall that she would be making representation to the council at the next statutory meeting to reexamine their situation. “I have a proposal I will present to the council at the next statutory meeting to ask them to look at the situation,” she said.
She cautioned, however, that while the council does not want to “take bread out of anyone’s mouth,” the operators would have to ensure that their surroundings are kept clean.
“How can I make a petition to the council asking for you to remain there when you continuously have the place in an unacceptable condition? I can only represent somebody if they have the surroundings clean. There are three stands—the dirtiest on the mall—and we are giving them the opportunity to fix it or have it removed because they have those stalls making the entire malls look dirty,” she said.
She added also that those persons who are operating every day would be given preference to remain, while “those who are unacceptable, those that lock up with rope and tarpaulin need to be removed.”
Several of the barbers and cosmetologists, however, voiced concerns over outsiders, who they blamed for the unsightly look of the place. “A lot of times is not we does dirty the place. When we come in the morning, we see all sorts of things here. A lot of junkies also come and sleep out here with their cardboards,” one of them argued.
Another lamented the fact that the tents they are using are costly but porous. “These tents are like $20,000 and when the heavy breeze blow, it does blow down the tarpaulin. Our customers are getting wet when it rains,” she said.
Meanwhile, Town Clerk Royston Clerk said that while the council is mindful of the fact that others may be responsible for littering in the area, he argued that some of the persons plying their trade there are also not keeping the place clean.
“You have some who are making the effort to keep the place clean and there are others who are doing absolutely nothing…we all need to work together to ensure we have that particular area clean and tidy. There is no negotiation. The place must be kept clean and tidy,” he said.
Towards this end, he added, stalls that are not in use would soon be removed.
“The people who have stalls that are untidy will have to clean it up and those stalls that are not in use will be removed in a number of days. You will get the notice. We won’t allow the abandoned stalls to remain in the Merriman Mall,” he asserted.
He also added that while the original plan was to have the practitioners operate on a temporary basis, the council would be looking to have kiosks built so that they can operate properly.
“That was the original plan and we still have that plan in place where we are hoping to put you in proper kiosks and allow you to function as proper practitioners. The environmental consideration is a very strong one in our view,” King said.
“We need to ask you to work with us. We put you there in the first place. It was out of a concern for you and it was out of a thinking that we want to have you properly organised so that you can make money and you can pay us so that the city can make money,” he added.