SEATTLE – More than a dozen homeless people camping at Ballard Commons Park must find a new place to live.
Seattle is launching a new program at Ballard Commons Park to make sure families feel comfortable using the space. Come Monday, a full time concierge service will be offered from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. to answer questions and to mediate problems.
City crews cleared away their belongings Sunday morning after giving homeless campers advanced notice. The Seattle police navigation team tries to help campers find a better place to live.
John Heiger has lived in the apartment right beside Ballard Commons for the past eight years.
“During the summer, it’s constant – people rotating through, the garbage and the sleeping bags,” he said. "“I get it, you feel sorry for these people. They don’t have better options, but at the same time, you get the sense that the city is becoming a doormat.”
“There doesn’t seem to be any long-term plan,” neighbor Jay Johnson added.
Seattle City Parks wants to make Ballard Commons Park a more positive place for families, like for Barrie Rallis and her young son.
“Parks are important to me. Just to have a safe place to bring my kid and for us to be a part of the community,” Rallis said.
The concierge program will include sidewalk games, lawn chairs, and an information booth. All staff will have mediation and de-escalation training.
Right now, there are movies, concerts and kid carnivals on certain days of the week at Ballard Commons Park.
Some say the added concierge program will be promising for their park.
“As a parent, I want everyone to feel safe, and I think the park could be for everybody,” Rallis said.
Organizers says the concierge program has worked at other downtown city parks, like Westlake and Occidental Park.