Gazebo removed from Uptown Lexington

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LEXINGTON, N.C. -- A wooden gazebo that's been in uptown Lexington since 2012 was taken down this morning after many complaints were filed to the city.

Rebekah Cansler McGee, Main Street Manger for Uptown Lexington, says locals complained that the gazebo became a hangout for panhandlers and homeless people.

"The complaints were there were homeless people asking for money, cigarettes, food," she said. "There were also complaints from women that they were getting whistled at, catcalled."

Locals say this created an unwelcoming environment -- the opposite intent of the gazebo, which they initially hoped would attract more tourists to sit and relax uptown.

Jeanne Lenoard, who owns a business on Main Street near the former site of the gazebo, says she is glad to see it gone.

Tourists "are like a guest in our home," she said. "And we wouldn't want somebody in our front yard saying things to our guest if it was our home. And this is our home."

Other Lexington residents, like Norman Lee Terpstra, said he'll miss seeing the gazebo, and that it added a quaint feel to the area.

"It always seems to be the few people that stick out, the bad people," he said. "And the good people pay the price and then we can miss it."

Historically, the gazebo was only put up during the city's Christmas Open House. McGee says under different leadership, the decision was made to leave the gazebo up year round starting in 2012. Now, the city plans to bring it in, as before, only during the Open House.