SEATTLE — Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell is revealing the results of a months-long process to clean up Woodland Park. At one point, it was estimated that more than a hundred people were living there.
It looks much different today, and the Mayor says the city is working toward sustainable results.
Thursday was the first day back to the park for John Quinn and Lloyd Marquardt. They are part of the Pilchuck Treasure Hunting Club, and Woodland Park used to be a favorite spot but they say that changed over the last year.
They noticed more trash and tents in the park as a homeless encampment grew.
"We stayed away, yeah it was just too many things that could happen," said Marquardt.
Bruce Harrell noticed it too while running for Mayor, and vowed to make the park a priority. During his more than four months in office, he says the work has been underway. There was a cleanup last week with help for the homeless people who have been living in the park.
"We prioritized getting to know what people needed. We prioritized generating placements for them based on those needs," said Marc Dones, the CEO of King County Regional Homelessness Authority.
The city says as of last week, there were 89 connections with 60 people referred to tiny house villages, 25 referred to enhanced shelters, and four relocated to permanent housing alternatives.
Mayor Harrell sees outreach as a major part of the solution.
"Pushing people around the city, pushing them from one tent to another, pushing them from one sidewalk to another is not the answer," said Harrell.
The city's efforts at the park are why Marquardt is back.
"We pick up anything we dig up whether it is bottlecaps or junk. We try to pick that up and carry that out. So we do try to clean up, leave it better than we found it," said Marquardt.
The city says its work is not done. The coordinated effort will continue to restore and reactivate the park.