SEATTLE — It has been about 8 months since the City of Seattle closed a popular park after clearing out a homeless encampment. Now with summer in full swing, people are wondering when the park in the Ballard neighborhood will reopen.
"You know it's summer, it's definitely time to where we want to be outside using parks and it's kind of sad to see a park that can't be used right now," said Rachel Levien, who lives nearby Ballard Commons.
Ballard Commons has been closed since December of last year, when the City of Seattle conducted a homeless encampment sweep. The sweep came after neighbors and businesses nearby voiced their frustrations about safety concerns.
"As I explained to my kids when there are folks that don't have a house to live in or a safe place to be, that means they're living their entire lives out in public and when we don't give them a safe place to take care of the things they need, you end up with human waste issues,” said Levien. “There's definitely been drug use in the park for years."
The city did offer temporary housing for the people at the encampment. Since then, the park has been fenced off as the city continues to make improvements.
"Ten years of delayed back work that needed to be implemented and much of the work been done, there's still some work that I'm asking to be included, including additional seating throughout the park and additional lighting," said Strauss.
Seattle Council Member Dan Strauss, who represents District Six said there's also talks of putting a playground at the park and redeveloping nearby St. Luke's Episcopal Church into family affordable housing. All that being said, officials with the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department said there's still no clear timeline on when the park will reopen.
"I want to get this park reopened as soon as possible and it's all about how do we get all the partners to the table with the same calendar and that's the work that we're working on right now, and we're working on it every week," said Strauss.