Alvernon Park Improvements
RE: Proposed Permanent Closure of Montezuma Ave between 3rd St and Longfellow
The Ward 6 Office and Department of Transportation and Mobility (DTM) have conducted a temporary closure at East 4th St. at Longfellow and Montezuma Ave. near 3rd St. (please see this map)
This closure will remain in place for 60 days, beginning on Tuesday, September 7th, through Monday, November 8th, 2021.
Revised – The Annual Meeting on October 20, 2021 included discussion about moving forward with a permanent closure. This meeting also allowed residents and City Parks/Trans folks to listen to neighborhood benefits and concerns. (Updated – Meeting notes are here.)
Additional – 12/06/21 – Active discussions are now under way on the redesign of Alvernon Park. The new area to be added, where the section of Montezuma is now, will be of particular focus. An attempt will be made to make the far SW corner (4th & Montezuma) less attractive for overnight stays. The walking path discussed earlier will be included in the redesign. If you would like to participate is the park redesign process, please let PHNA Park Improvement Committee lead person Jason Katterhenry know of your interest (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Additional – 1/17/22 – [on recent homeless camps] “I believe we have outreach workers assigned to these folks [along 600-800 N. Montezuma] already. As far as a removal it is tough to ensure a satisfactory result in this instance. Homeless outnumber the housing we have so many are stuck on the street despite any opinions or generalizations.
This leads us to the question “Where do they go?” Many hang around parks as during the day they can legally hang out in the park. Then comes “Where do they sleep?” and the answer is “Anywhere that provides safety and security” which can really be anywhere they find.
There is case law ( Martin V City of Boise) that essentially makes it illegal to arrest or remove Homeless for camping on public property when reasonable housing does not exist for them, which in our City’s case, it doesn’t. I know every neighborhood wants to rid themselves of Homelessness (trust me, I have 30 more Donald Ijams emailing me weekly, many of them less polite than you though). We do our best to alleviate issues, but chances are there will always be a few Homeless in your washes and alleys no matter what until we have enough space and housing for them.
Do not take this as a “Just deal with it” response. I just need to lay out realistic expectations of what we can do as a Police Department and a City. I have been involved with dozens of major homeless removals where everyone thought “See? You just needed to force them out and get after them and they would leave” just to see the neighborhood return to status quo in a few months.
I want to focus on letting outreach workers do what they need to do. If criminal issues escalate we will adjust accordingly. Sometimes, it is only one person out of a dozen causing the issues.
I hope you can understand and respect my approach to this issue. I have spent a lot of time explaining this problem to City Leaders and have asked for some alternative solutions, right now they are mulling those solutions over.”
Sgt. Jack Julsing #53343, Homeless Outreach Team, Tue-Fri 0600-1600, TPDHOT@tucsonaz.gov (Contact email for Public)
Additional – 1/18/22 “We will get this out [the proposal to abandon 630-760 N. Montezuma] for Agency Review within the next few days. This process takes about 2-3 weeks. Once complete, we will send the report to Parks Dept. for next steps.” Jesse Soto, DTM
“Parks & Recreation is bringing a landscape architect on board to assist with getting feedback from the neighbors and then a design.” Greg Jackson, P&R
“. . . folks from the alley [behind 3925 E. 1st St.] just got squeezed out to the other public space by the Park. We will do our best to get them outreach and get the area cleaned. Until these folks get housing, they will most likely be in the general vicinity.” Sgt. Jack Julsing, TPD Homeless Outreach Team<
A new proposal is being discussed called Safe Places for Outdoor Tenants (SPOT). The program, in the planning stages, involves designating a place that is safe where people living outside can set up tents and also keep their stuff while they try to get housing. Sgt. Julsing is proposing one sanctioned camping area in each ward on vacant land that the city owns near bus lines. These locations should have bathrooms, washing stations and electricity, etc. Some neighborhoods are writing letters of support for this proposal to Mayor and Council.
If you have any questions regarding this matter, please contact Jason or City project manager Jesse Soto, via email email@example.com or cell at 520-400-9718.
Senior Project Manager
If you would like to serve on the PHNA Park Improvement Committee, please contact us through our email address phnaemail.gmail.com.
Each week, Ward 6 City Councilman Steve Kozachik prepares a useful summary of city-wide issues and news – his newsletter is available here.
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