NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Residents say a park in the Bronx recently beautified for the community’s enjoyment has instead become a magnet for homelessness, drug use, and unsanitary conditions.
A makeshift encampment has sprouted up less than a month after 50 roses were planted in Pelham Parkway Park as part of a rose garden. On Saturday, the NYPD arrested two men for doing K-2 in the park.
“If you give them a dollar, you see them gone for a minute and then they come back and do their drugs right in the open,” Pelham Parkway resident Janice Fair said. “The K-2, they’re like zombies.”
Roxanne Delgado started the volunteer group “Friends of Pelham Parkway” a year ago in an effort to clean up the park.
“Not only are they not fully dressed, but they’re also conducting illegal activities,” she added. “Every morning I find alcohol, condoms, socks. Sometimes they’re passed out until 10 in the morning.”
Delgado first spoke with CBS2 in December when people were illegally dumping household garbage with their personal documents in the park. Now, she says more than a dozen homeless people treat the park like their own hotel.
“I found people defecate on the benches, and we had to call Parks (Department) because it required special cleaning,” she said. “They had to bleach it out and that’s a health hazard.”
Residents are disturbed at what’s become of the park.
“All these people, all high laying on the ground high and no one’s doing anything about it,” Brian Schloss said. “I don’t come in here anymore because I don’t feel safe. I don’t feel safe anymore.”
“Don’t we have any rights anymore? We’re the taxpayers, I pay $600 every quarter of real estate tax to be afraid to walk in the park the city built for us,” Pelham Parkway resident Wayne Lindenberg said.
Neighbors say they think a part of the problem is that the park is open 24 hours a day, but the Parks Department clarified that the park is open from sunrise until 1 a.m.
“We are aware of the issues in this area and will continue to look at this site to investigate what level of syringe cleanup and outreach to drug users if needed,” a department spokesperson said in a statement to CBS2.
The NYPD says it’s collaborating with local nonprofits to provide outreach, but residents say the homeless residents won’t take their help and leave. Residents say they’ve asked the Parks Department to close the grounds earlier than its current 1 a.m. curfew, but the department was unable to confirm receipt of a letter requesting that.