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Neighbors concerned over drug use and public health issues at Roosevelt Park

Roosevelt Park Homeless
Posted at 4:59 PM, Jul 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-27 19:16:57-04

BALTIMORE — If you take a look around Roosevelt Park, you'll see a nice pool, playground, skate park and lots of open land. But people who live near the park said the public space is getting destroyed.

"The trash is all over, there's human feces, there's a lot of urination in bottles which is thrown everywhere and it's just a general unhealthy vibe in there and it's scary. People don't want to be in there by themselves walking with or without their dogs,” said Michael Quindlen, who lives next to Roosevelt Park.

The proof of public drug use is evident on the park's grass near the pool. While park rules say no one is allowed after dark, Quindlen said some people have chosen to make this their home.

"Over the last three weeks, we've gone from one individual living in the park to about four or five individual encampments,” said Quindlen.

He said when he's voiced concerns of the homeless in the park to city officials before, they told him they cannot force those living on the streets to leave.

Lois Joyeusaz, who owns a home and business in walking distance of the park, said it's bringing a new level of fear.

"We've actually been vandalized quite a bit, we found shell casing on our roof when we did the roof in the spring, there were three different shell casings from gunfire up the street,” said Joyeusaz.

It’s a place that is supposed to be a safe haven for children, but Joyeusaz said she fears mostly for their safety.

"For all the neighborhood children as a place for them to come, they have to wait in line to get in the pool because there are so many, and they're waiting in the refuge and they're waiting in these needles,” said Joyeusaz.

Quindlen reached out multiple times to city officials for help. Councilman James Torrence, who represents this district, sent out a broad email inviting other city representatives to join him Thursday morning for a walk through Roosevelt Park to meet with the campers to discuss support options for leaving.

He also stated in the email that Baltimore City Recs and Parks has removed needles and human waste.

On July 27 city leaders walked through the park, offering help to the homeless.

"This is a mental health services, addiction services, persons who have been displaced, this is us meeting people where they are," said councilman James Torrence. "We have one person who's leaving today at 3 who's accepted housing and mental health services."

The city's graffiti removal team is also scheduled to work at the park and the city says they're looking at replacing playground equipment in the near future.