Downtown Concierge

Downtown Matters: Discouraging Loitering


Downtown Matters Newsletter


Downtown Columbus

During the spring months, the YMCA witnessed a loitering problem on Long Street between High and Front streets. Large groups of people, some of whom were engaged in illegal activity, gathered at all hours of the day and night, which intimidated pedestrians.

Sue Darby, Downtown YMCA Executive Director, reached out to Capital Crossroads SID for assistance in handling the issue. SID staff suggested a technique, which has proven successful in other cities: piping in classical music. Yes, really. Research has indicated that this type of music discourages loitering. Any parent who has been forced to listen to hours of music from a certain purple dinosaur can attest that the right kind of music can indeed act as a repellent.

With the YMCA's support, the SID installed speakers, and now a variety of classical music plays throughout the day. Almost immediately, the crowds scattered.

"I feel that the program is working very well. It has been a positive motivator to keep people from gathering in front of our Y," said Darby. "Because we are able to control the volume, we can increase it when we notice a heated conversation happening out front. It encourages the participants on their way."

In fact, the tactic has been so successful, the SID now plans to install a similar system on South High Street between Rich and Town streets.