Visitors: Closed city park has a history of problems
James Gay III Park is still closed and people are asking why.Photo: Video by ktnv.com
CREATED Jul. 17, 2013
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- A city park that was shut down over the weekend has a history of problems, according to neighbors and park visitors.
The City of Las Vegas locked the gates and closed James Gay III Park after a woman was slashed last week. But people who used to visit the park said they're not surprised and believe the homeless population shares the blame for the problems.
"I'm very frustrated because I've seen it going on for years," said Brady Bowles, a youth ministry pastor.
Bowles said his group used to meet at the park on Sundays but that stopped after Bowles said he witnessed drugs, sex and people going to the bathroom just about anywhere. He wants to know what it will take to clean up the park.
"I definitely won't take my kids there," said Bowles. "We went there for a year and a half. Even the maintenance workers that worked there advised me to go somewhere else."
Bowles blames the homeless population, many of whom have now taken up residence outside of the park gate. But homeless people who spoke with Action News said they had every right to use the park and believe a few bad apples are making the others look bad.
"I feel like closing the park is unconstitutional," said Josey, a woman who said she is homeless and has used the park for the last two years. "We didn't do it and I know they have to find out what went wrong."
The south end of the park is designated as a children's park, meaning only children with adults are supposed to use it but community members said that's a tough rule to enforce.
"I believe we can do a much better job than we have done in relation to addressing issues," said city councilman Ricki Barlow, whose district includes the park.
Barlow said the homeless have become a nuisance in the park, urinating and defecating to a point where he said grass will no longer grow in some areas. The councilman believes other crimes may have happened at the park but went unreported to police.
Barlow said taxpayers paid for the park and he's working to clean it up so children and families can use it again.
"I would encourage families at this point not to use utilize James Gay Park until your city leaders, to include myself, address these concerns that are so vitally important," said Barlow.
Barlow said he plans to meet with city staff this week to discuss the issue.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police have not responded to many serious incidents at the park, said police spokesman Officer Larry Hadfield. From May 11 to July 17, police have received 13 calls for service at the facility but did not elaborate on the nature of the calls. Hadfield said a call for service can mean a variety of issues ranging from a welfare check to a noise complaint or a crime.
The city received a $424,000 grant from the National Park Service to upgrade the park around 2007, said city spokeswoman Diana Paul in an email. The city spent another $182,000 on the project.
Paul said the park will remain closed until the city can come up with the best course of action to move forward. No date was provided.