Would the park have been closed if the homeless people leaving trash were the women of the United States National Team?  Soccer/Fútbol that is!

Would  Ulele prefer instead the women to be naked?  I’m sure that would bring plenty of traffic to the area.  Maybe the name of the park should change to NIMBY Park?

 

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City loses a park and some of its humanity

Tampa Bay Times25 Jan 2017

SUE CARL­TON scarl­ton@tam­pabay.com

A nice thing about Tampa’s urban neigh­bor­hoods is that some­body ac­tu­ally thought about parks.

Small, un­ex­pected “pocket parks” pep­per the place, rec­tan­gles of green space the length of a city block or two. They are pleas­ant stretches of grass and benches and shady trees for any­one to sit un­der — nice plan­ning in a town not al­ways known for it.

But one of those unas­sum­ing lit­tle squares of respite is sud­denly no more — the back­story be­ing Tampa’s on­go­ing bat­tle with the home­less peo­ple who per­se­vere here.

A tall black metal fence re­cently sprouted around a park that was once open green space next to a big law firm just north of down­town. Plac­ards warn “NO TRESPASSING KEEP OUT,’’ and ev­ery en­trance is pad­locked. Gone is the wel­com­ing city sign that said “Phil Bourquardez Park.”

And it all hap­pened so qui­etly that even Frank Red­dick, the City Coun­cil mem­ber rep­re­sent­ing the area, didn’t know the park was closed down. Make that: the park that wasn’t a park even though the city called it a park, but more on that civic jab­ber­wocky in a minute.

And it all hap­pened so qui­etly that even Frank Red­dick, the City Coun­cil mem­ber rep­re­sent­ing the area, didn’t know the park was closed down. Make that: the park that wasn’t a park even though the city called it a park, but more on that civic jab­ber­wocky in a minute.

Named for the son of a pioneer Tampa fam­ily, Bourquardez Park was known in these parts as Bac­ardi Park, and yes, like the rum. It wasn’t one of your fancier spa­ces like Cur­tis Hixon Water­front Park sprawled along the river to the south. This one was closer to Metropoli­tan Min­istries and the Sal­va­tion Army shel­ter, and the home­less flocked to it. You could drive by and see dozens of peo­ple sprawled in the grass us­ing back­packs as pil­lows or en­joy­ing the shade. Some­times cars would stop and hand out food and fresh fruit.

Res­i­dents and busi­nesses com­plained, and the city de­ter­mined the parks depart­ment was putting an “over­abun­dance of re­sources” into tak­ing care of de­bris, un­claimed prop­erty and san­i­tary is­sues, a city spokes­woman said.

So it was closed. In­ter­est­ingly, the $32,784 fence went up the Fri­day be­fore the big week­end fes­tiv­i­ties down­town for the col­lege football cham­pi­onship match — the same week­end that vol­un­teers who had been feed­ing the home­less in an­other city park for years sud­denly got ar­rested for it.

Surely a co­in­ci­dence.

Now wait a minute, you might be think­ing. How can the city close a park with­out ask­ing any­one?

Gen­er­ally, it can’t. The city can­not, say, sell off a park with­out vot­ers agree­ing to it in a ref­er­en­dum, and for good rea­son. Parks are for the peo­ple. Like li­braries, they are free and open to ev­ery­one — cou­ples tak­ing a stroll be­fore din­ner at the swanky nearby Ulele restau­rant and home­less peo­ple with nowhere else to go.

But those rules ap­ply only to a long list of the city’s “ded­i­cated” parks, and Bourquardez wasn’t one of them, more of a “grassy open space,” ac­cord­ing to the city. The city shut down the sort-of park legally — and also in­def­i­nitely, and with no plans to sell or re­pur­pose the prop­erty.

But those rules ap­ply only to a long list of the city’s “ded­i­cated” parks, and Bourquardez wasn’t one of them, more of a “grassy open space,” ac­cord­ing to the city. The city shut down the sort-of park legally — and also in­def­i­nitely, and with no plans to sell or re­pur­pose the prop­erty.

Look, I get there were prob­lems. And I get that there are no easy an­swers to the thorny and mul­ti­fac­eted is­sues of home­less­ness in a big city.

But doesn’t it seem a waste and a shame when us­able pub­lic green space sits be­hind a locked gate be­cause we can’t find a way to make it work with lim­ited park hours, en­force­ment or more creative so­lu­tions?

It’s hard to be­lieve shut­ting down a park be­cause home­less peo­ple use it is the best we can do.

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