- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 26, 2007

ATLANTA (AP) — The homeless men and women, beggars, street vendors and other regular denizens of Barbara M. Asher Square may be the first impression of Atlanta many visitors see — a fact that has some city officials upset.

The pedestrian-only square, owned by the city, is outside the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority’s central Five Points station, where most passengers — including those coming from the airport — exit to reach a bevy of hotels, the Georgia Aquarium, the Georgia Dome, Philips Arena and Atlanta’s convention center.

On a recent afternoon, a group of girls and young men stood screaming at one another while standing only inches apart. An apparently drunk man lay unconscious in a gutter, the homeless sat on 12 concrete benches, and a smell of urine, incense and marijuana wafted in the air.

“It is embarrassing how we allowed it to be an eyesore,” said Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall, whose district covers downtown. “It can’t continue. Everyone has to be accountable for upkeep, and we can’t let it continue to be a regular congregation area.”

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