Wenatchee Mayor says Safe Parks are Making a Difference
It’s been two weeks since the City of Wenatchee opened its second safe park and thus far, things appear to be going smoothly and to plan.
The parks are designed to temporarily accommodate people who are without shelter and living in their vehicles.
The first park opened in late September and is located in the 1400 block of South Wenatchee Avenue, while the second is on Ohme Garden Road in the Olds Station area.
Wenatchee Mayor Frank Kuntz says finding a spot for the second park proved more challenging than the first.
“Everyone I talk to says they want the problem fixed but they don’t want the park in their neighborhood. So at some point, someone has to decide what neighborhood the park will be located. In this instance, that decision was mine and mine alone. I sort of felt like Olds Station was the right spot since it’s more of an industrial center. Trying to find property was way harder than I thought it would be. I talked to five governmental agencies about locating the park on their property who all told me ‘no’.”
The first park to open is located on city-owned property, while the second is on private land that the city is in the process of legally acquiring.
Kuntz says thus far, both parks have done what they were designed to do for both the city and its residents who are in need.”
“So far, so good. I think both of them are operating well. You can already see a lot of difference in certain places around town where there had been a lot of folks living in their campers or cars. You can see way less of that now. The residents in our town need to remember that most of the people who occupy the parks have jobs. I’d say 40 percent of them go to work every day. Many of them lost their apartments when rents got too high and there’s several who are living by themselves who have medical issues. So a lot of these people are your neighbors who are just having a tough time and need our help.”
The city’s first park filled up almost immediately and remains full, while the second park currently has about 20 residents with room for about five or six more.
Kuntz says he expects the two parks should provide sufficient capacity to temporarily house those in need into the foreseeable future.
The parks are being funded by the city with the assistance of a grant and are being managed under contract with the Wenatchee Rescue Mission.