TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - It’s called DeAnza Park but neighbors around it call it an encampment.
The City of Tucson and the Tucson Police Department have battled what to do about the homeless population living at the park located on Speedway Boulevard and Stone Avenue.
"This park is not used as a park at all,” Larrie Warren, a five-year resident of the neigborhood, said.
It’s a problem he hoped would be improving by now due to an initiative from Tucson police in 2018 that aimed to have it cleaned up a year ago.
The first meeting happened back in August of 2019, where TPD officers presented a five-phase outline of a plan dubbed the DeAnza Parks Quality of Life Police Initiative. The plan includes community input, increased patrols at and around the park and providing services for people who stay at the park for extended periods of time.
The increased presence was expected to to begin by the end of August, with "fair and consistent enforcement."
Warren said things have only gotten worse.
“It’s definitely been a gross situation, the whole issue, the whole problem just the volume of the people over there has grown in the last year,” Warren said.
His optimism peaked when TPD began clearing, but those efforts have recently dropped off, Warren said.
“[The officer]said ‘yeah, we haven’t been sending squads and groups down here as regularly as we were before,’” Warren said. "And really, as they admitted to me they’ve almost stopped for right now.”
Warren said he was told it's due to a resources issue. Still, he is optimistic that a solution will be found.
"There still trying to work through these programs with the parks department just to kind of come up with a long term solution,” he said.
DeAnza Park is getting new attention now that the City of Tucson Parks and Recreation Department officials will present a plan Monday, Dec. 9, outlining top priorities.
Sierra Boyer, the community promotions and marketing manager with the department, said some potential renovations to the park are:
- Dog Park
- Fitness Court
- Ramadas and Sidewalks
- Walking Path
- Shade Structures
- Multi-purpose court
- Historical interpretive displays
They will walk through a couple phased concept plans in order to get feedback on if the plans are on the right track for what the community wants to see at the park.
The meeting will be Monday, Dec. 9, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Pima Community College Downtown Campus, 1255 N. Stone Ave., CC Building Room 180 (Amethyst Room).
Neighbors are excited about hearing more about the potential improvements but hope it doesn’t take away from addressing the real problem.
“You have to do something about the issue here which is homeless people that are living here,” Abdallah Alfazarra, a resident, said.
They just hope that one day DeAnza can go back to it’s intended purpose of being a park.
“Things will work itself out and it’s certainly not going to happen overnight,” Warren said.