Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibilityHomeless camp keeps youth running leagues from getting use permits at Seattle park | KOMO
Close Alert

Homeless camp keeps youth running leagues from getting use permits at Seattle park

A homeless camp at Woodland Park. (KOMO)
A homeless camp at Woodland Park. (KOMO)
Facebook Share IconTwitter Share IconEmail Share Icon
Comment bubble

Cross country teams for kids have to find a new place to train - all because of a sprawling homeless camp in a popular Seattle park.

The city is denying permits for leagues to host meets at Lower Woodland, on the south end of Green Lake, and the ban will likely last the season.

Woodland Park is one of those places ideally suited for children and teens just getting into cross country racing. Ed Balet said the network of running trails drew both of his children to the sport.

“They get really excited about it,” Balet said. “It's what their friends do. They love the course. It's one of the better courses around the area to run cross country. It is a lot more varied terrain."

However, coaches have started notifying families that the city is keeping Lower Woodland off limits for running competitions because of the homeless campers and tents spread throughout that forested landscape.

“They're not issuing any permits for usage there,” said Corey Batten, one of the head coaches for the Rain City Flyers.

The Project Seattle team reached out to the parks department and mayor's office and was told the permit denials were "due to concerns around the current conditions at Woodland Park, including reports from our grounds crews of encampments blocking some trails."

“I think it's just a safety issue and they didn't want to have any conflicts," Batten said.

Because of those issues, Rain City Flyers decided not to hold any practices at Lower Woodland either until the park is made safe and accessible to all.

“It's just very frustrating to the people who want to use the park,” Batten said.

Seattle is sending outreach workers into the encampments but at last check few were accepting offers of shelter. For now it appears the campers will stay and the kids will go.

“The drugs, the prostitution, the human waste - all that is in our city parks that we are spending money to maintain, and I think the balance is gone,” Balet said.

The denial of permits affects more than a dozen schools, several private running clubs and thousands of student athletes.

Comment bubble

Seattle has been working with these youth leagues to line up alternative sites for their events. Those include Magnuson, Genesee and Lincoln parks. However, coaches said those venues can't host as many participants. They also don't offer the same cross-country challenges as the terrain at Lower Woodland.

Loading ...