JAMESTOWN, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Chautauqua County Executive says the city of Jamestown needs to clamp down on crime, and it’s led to a skirmish with the city’s mayor that centers around a downtown parking garage.
County Executive PJ Wendel says county employees working in Jamestown’s City Hall building have been harassed and their vehicles vandalized in the city-owned parking garage next door. Wendel told News 4 the garage has become unsafe and unsanitary, saying teenagers and some of the city’s homeless population harass those who use the garage. Wendel claimed vehicles have even been damaged and stolen.
On Tuesday, he released a strongly worded statement accusing city officials of inaction on crime.
“It’s disappointing that additional measures are being considered only after acts of violence and vandalism towards not just Chautauqua County employees who patronize the parking structure, but also the general pubic [sic], makes headline news across our community,” the statement read.
Meanwhile, Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist is pushing back. Sundquist on Tuesday released a statement of his own, saying he was “deeply disappointed” in the County Executive’s words.
“I believe it is more productive to have a conversation around public safety issues impacting our residents rather than making public statements,” Sundquist said.
Sundquist told News 4 Wendel’s claims about the garage and rising crime in his city aren’t entirely true. He says crime in downtown Jamestown is down year over year and, while people experiencing homelessness are occasionally found in the garage, heightened police presence in the garage is working.
“We don’t tend to see those that are homeless sleeping in the parking ramps. We don’t tend to see those that are homeless smashing windows and stealing cars. We aren’t seeing that,” Sundquist said.
Sundquist told News 4 the city just got bids back to upgrade lightning and signage and install security cameras. He hopes the city council will approve the plans and move forward with the upgrades.
While Sudquist told News 4 he was surprised by the County Executive’s statement, he says they’re still planning to meet and work things out in the coming weeks.
Justin McMullen is a Western New York native who joined the News 4 team in 2023. You can read more of his work here.