Homelessness in city parks impact businesses

Local business owners express frustration with the city's lack of action on the homelessness issue.
Published: Sep. 30, 2022 at 12:10 AM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Jake Snider is the general manager at Scotty’s Complete Car Care across the street from Whitman Park. “It’s just really sad to see downtown Grand Junction has this look,” said Snider.

But walk inside one of the park restrooms, and here’s what you’ll find doors closed at ten because of vandalism. Other nearby businesses say that just pushed the problem closer to them.

“People who are hanging out in the park for too long, they come and try to use our utilities,” said Snider. “If they happen to get inside, they’ll destroy our property, usually on the weekends as well.”

And Snider should know he’s worked there for 25 years, and he worries how what happens across the street might impact nearby his bottom line.

Snider wonders what the city is doing. “It seems like the city is continuing to, you know, corral and keep them in this park specifically; I would have to say the best thing the city can do is to keep people moving along,” added Snider.

“So the issue of the house is a very complex issue, and it’s not just a city issue,” said Ken Sherbenou, director of parks and recreation. “It is a community issue where there are a number of different partners that need to work together to address the very challenging issue of homelessness.”

Grand Junction isn’t alone; homeless camps dot the west. A possible solution: make the parks more welcoming for families. “We can give reason to go visit the parks, the more comfortable everyone feels, and the greater the service that we’re providing to the community,” said Sherbenou.

“I would say, you know, down here as a business, we don’t necessarily have negative views toward people in the park, said Snider. “But we have negative views of the way the city takes care of that.”

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