NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Less than one day after CBS2’s story about Bronx residents complaining that a recently beautified park turned into a magnet for homelessness, drug use, and unsanitary conditions, city responders were on the scene.
A makeshift encampment sprouted up less than a month after 50 roses were planted in Pelham Parkway Park as part of a rose garden, which residents say has become a centerpiece to a haphazard hotel for the homeless.
Dirty clothes, defecation, drugs, alcohol, and even intercourse are out in the open for all to see in the $1.5 million park. For months, residents say they’ve called the city’s Parks Department and the NYPD to help.
“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.”
Just Saturday, the NYPD arrested two men for doing K-2 in the park. On Monday, a captain with the Parks Department was parked front and center. Officers from the 49th Precinct also came by for backup later in the day.
Roxanne Delgado started the volunteer group “Friends of Pelham Parkway” a year ago in an effort to clean up the park.
“Yesterday we had an influx of homeless people doing illegal activities and hygienic issues like bathing or dressing up here, or not fully dressed doing drugs, alcohol and today they’re not here,” she said. “I’d really like to thank CBS for being here you’ve made some great changes in less than 24 hours.”
City Councilman Mark Gjonaj (D-13th) represents the area, and says many of the homeless people travel to the park from Manhattan.
“In the last three weeks the NYPD has made 12 arrests for K-2 and aggressive panhandling, but there aren’t any arrests or many summonses issued for quality of life issues,” he said.
The Parks Department wouldn’t make anyone available to speak on Monday, but a spokesperson told CBS2 they would at least consider putting signs reiterating the hours of the park. The department does maintain it regularly patrols the park, and the city’s Department of Homeless Services says homeless people cannot be removed unless they pose a danger.
Outreach teams to canvass the area five times a day, according to Homeless Services.