Homeless camps in some Seattle parks put little league sports in check

In Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, there is a latent conflict between the city’s homeless camps and parents and their children who want to play youth sports in city parks but find an unwelcoming environment at many sites. .

Ballard Little League officials told KOMO News on Thursday they were grappling with a myriad of issues related to the homeless people who have made their home in the Gilman and Ballard Community Center playgrounds since the start of the season. training a few weeks ago.

A recent email from a city employee suggested parents look elsewhere for their youth sports because of the camps.

Some parents have complained of homeless people yelling at their children, it was reported that a man appeared to overdose on drugs behind a park toilet and many complained of discarded needles left in the fields .

Little League coach Eamon Reilly wants to play ball with his team this season, but he has become frustrated with the problems that have resulted from the homeless camps.

“If you prioritize the people sleeping in the canoe over my son who plays T-ball, I have no words to describe how much that upsets me,” he said.

Steven Reich, president of a youth sports league, said he recently contacted the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department, hoping for a solution to the problem.

“What we were hoping to see were proactive steps to make sure these fields were safe,” he said.

Instead, Reich said he received an email from the city saying, “Gilman (playground) is a challenge. I can verify, but we had a conversation about not having teams on this site due to the issues. We have about five sites around town where licensing is going to be an issue with the encampments.

A Seattle official said the email correspondence came from an employee who did not have the authority to make any decisions and that permits would not be withdrawn from youth groups.

“We want to be compassionate upstream (and) bring people in, but we also need to make sure that we restore these spaces for everyone to enjoy,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan, interviewed by KOMO News Thursday on the city’s approach to homelessness issues now spreading to the park’s playgrounds.

Durkan has not said how the city will react or when.

But some parents say the city’s explanation does not address ongoing homelessness issues at playgrounds.

“The ability of the kids to play ball this year and to play ball in a safe place should be the number one priority in the city,” said parent Joanna Silverstein.

Ballard Little League officials said the city is helping them find alternative grounds to play, but so many Seattle-area parks are facing similar issues as well.


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