City had to remove Tent City.
Jul 12, 2007 06:29 PDT
City had to remove Tent City. Posted by: "ilacc2005!!" email@example.com ilacc2005 Wed Jul 11, 2007 7:02 am (PST)
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City had to remove 'Tent City' from riverfront park area
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Someone had the right idea: Give residents of the tent city at Harris Riverfront Park ample notice to find a new place to live before city work crews removed whatever was there.
The 20 to 30 people living in the tall brush at the western end of the park were offered various social services to help with the change, but they knew they had to leave. Still, that didn't make anything easier when work crews arrived Monday morning and removed tents and other belongings of people who have lived at the park for months or even years.
OAS_AD('ArticleFlex _1'); There were two schools of thought on the homeless at Harris Riverfront Park. One group of people found the homeless and the panhandlers to be more than a nuisance. They stopped going to the park entirely. The floodwall had already isolated the park some from the rest of town. Having a large concentration of the city's homeless there further walled it off.
As Mayor David Felinton and others have said, residents complain about the park being dirty and unsafe to visit.
Other people, however, looked upon the homeless and panhandlers as harmless. Let them be, and make their lives easier, they said.
"I support finding these people permanent housing but, short-term, I don't know what the answer is," Fred Ray, pastor of Turning Point Apostolic Ministries, said Friday as social service workers arrived to help residents of Tent City with the transition. "We can't find these people housing today. It could be three to six months. In the meantime, they're going to end up somewhere else on the streets. At least here at the riverfront they are contained."
His wife, Lisa, said, "If the city thinks that targeting homeless people is going to curtail a safety problem down here, they're fooling themselves. This place is a major drop-off point for drugs."
That point of view overlooks the central question. The federal and city governments didn't spend millions of dollars to build and maintain Harris Riverfront Park as a place for vagrants to panhandle and for drug dealers to do business.
The city had to reclaim Harris Riverfront Park. No one would want the homeless to take over the Ritter Park rose garden or the ballfields at St. Cloud. Why let them have Riverfront Park?
And aren't there other places along the Ohio River bank for them to camp? Huntington has nine miles of Ohio River bank. Surely there's one other spot they can camp where they won't affect the community's use of a public park.
At the same time, it's important that social service agencies and others in the community reach out to help the former residents of Tent City. Some may suffer from a mental illness. Some may have a substance abuse problem. Some may have other problems. But we can't tear down their community and expect them to change overnight.
Alone, destroying Tent City won't keep panhandlers out of Riverfront Park. They can set up a new camp nearby and return to the park during the day. That's why a continued law enforcement presence is necessary.
The homeless are not the entire problem at the park. But the city had to start somewhere.
The city had the right plan. Now it must follow through on that plan to make the park a place -- again -- where families want to walk, play or just enjoy the Ohio River flowing by.
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Not every person that lived in tent city was a panhandler. Many worked, others picked up cans to recycle. Why punish a whole group of people for a few bad apples? I certanily hope that if they move somewhere on the 9 miles of the OhiO River they will be left alone. The trouble makers will return to the park, they said so on the news! Please, let the ones who moved on be! The city didnt break there spirit! I heard them signing and lauging at a different place. It was great to see that they can still make the best of a already worsening situation! Yeah, enforce the laws in the park, for every one. This article makes it sound like the poor and the homeless are the ones bringing in the drug trade to Harris! What about the Johns out looking for a hook up? I dont like them licking there lips and starring me down. Maybe we should run em out? What about the drag racing that goes on nightly by the young people? Through them out. Bad for buisness! Maybe the city will
develope the old tent city. Just leave the river ratts alone!! They have enoough problems as it is!
Posted: Wed Jul 11, 2007 8:33 am
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