Homelessness dominates council discussion

Conflict between residents and transients who populate local parks spilled into City Hall on Wednesday night as several people expressed their concerns to Grand Junction City Council members.

Issues on the planned agenda for City Council were somewhat benign, but the comment portion of Wednesday’s meeting was dominated by advocates passionate either about the rights of transients to loiter in parks or the weariness of residents fed up with squatters.

Christi Reece, who works for Bray Real Estate, said she was concerned about the area’s visible transient population after learning that a potential buyer of a property near Whitman Park pulled out after being discouraged by the neighborhood’s homeless population.

“It’s hard to tell what effect this has had on property values,” she said of transients being in parks. “You drive downtown, and families aren’t even using the parks.”

A woman named Sarah Beth, who came to the meeting with her toddler, said she never has felt threatened by a transient in a local park. The woman said she is homeless and lamented there is no other place for homeless, especially families, to go during the day.

“We’re part of the community, too,” she said. “We need places to go. If there’s nowhere, that leaves the parks.”

“If you guys had no jobs, what would you do?” Sarah Beth asked the council members.

Because the comments were not included on the agenda, council members did not respond, nor were they expected to take any formal action.

But during a meeting prior to Wednesday’s council meeting, council members talked about changing a current ordinance that allows 3.2 percent alcohol in parks to not allowing any alcohol in some parks.

Council members had planned to dedicate a future workshop to discuss other options, but now they plan to move that discussion to the forefront after receiving an abundance of community input.

In other news, council members approved by a 6–0 vote to allow the Grand Junction Police Department to apply for a $56,384 grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance program for laptop computers for patrol cars. Grant dollars would be shared with the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department.


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