Northeast Anchorage park campground to be used as homeless camp
Community meeting to be held Monday at 7 p.m. to discuss changes
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A campground at Centennial Park will be closed to the public and converted into a temporary homeless camp through the end of July, according to the Municipality of Anchorage. The area in question is located along Starview Drive just east of the Muldoon Road access ramp to the Glenn Highway.
A community meeting will be held Monday at 7 p.m. at the Pena Sports Fields pavilion, according to the Northeast Community Council’s Facebook page, to discuss the changes made by Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration.
Municipality spokesperson Corey Allen Young told Alaska’s News Source in an email that the Anchorage Parks and Recreation Department has been keeping a close eye on fire danger and associated public safety risks of camps not authorized or sanctioned by the department.
“As such, the department has developed vouchers for those who choose to camp at Centennial Campground, so they are able to do so in a legal and safe manner during this extremely high fire danger situation,” Young said.
Municipal signs were posted Friday morning at the campground entrance stating that Parks and Recreation would be canceling all prior reservations at the campground through July 31, 2022, citing a “citywide safety need.” The postings also listed alternate locations where campsites are available.
“With that said, you will be issued a full refund, and we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you,” the signs read.
Many who live in the area said they were surprised by the swift action taken by the city to put in a temporary homeless camp. Some residents said they found out about the camp serving a different purpose when they saw signs posted around their neighborhood.
“My neighbor saw something in the woods that said the homeless are moving over there, and I can’t believe in this world this can happen behind our back overnight,” Linda McCrae, who lives near the campground said. “I can’t believe this is happening in our neighborhood. We’ve got to stop it.”
The plan to start a homeless camp in the Muldoon area were announced one day after a wildfire blazed through around 13 acres of forest area in East Anchorage, leaving residents on heightened alert as Southcentral Alaska continues to experience one of the hottest and driest starts to summer in years.
Anchorage Assembly member Jamie Allard posted on her Facebook page Friday morning thanking Mayor Dave Bronson and his administration for taking action and “giving the homeless (an) alternate location at Centennial Park”.
“We’ve done a mitigation process this is the safest location at this time,” Allard wrote.
According to the municipal data, 48 separate homeless camps were in the process of being abated, citywide, as of Friday afternoon. The city’s largest mass shelter, the Sullivan Arena, is also set to close at the end of the month.
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