Next steps for setting up the ‘allowed’ camp near Cuddy Park

Next steps for setting up the ‘allowed’ camp near Cuddy Park
Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 7:29 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Sanctioned Camps Community Task Force on Thursday held its first meeting since the passage of a resolution allowing a homeless camp on the vacant land east of Cuddy Park.

The task force is hoping to come up with more defined recommendations for the “allowed” campsite, which is slated to open in mid-July and host homeless residents for over a year.

The recommendations fall under the four subcategories of safety and security, support services, planning and design, and operations and management. Once finalized, the recommendation document will be given to the Assembly.

Some ideas discussed during the meeting related to fencing around the camp, 24-hour patrol in and around the camp, designated spots for vulnerable populations, prohibiting or creating a declaration process for weapons, and whether alcohol consumption on site was allowed, among other things.

“I come to this through the lens of we’re trying to build a program that is going to help people move on and this program might not necessarily have four walls and a roof, but it will have some structure to it,” said David Rittenberg, a member of the task force.

The group maintains it has brought together a diverse group of community members to provide their expertise for making these decisions.

“It’s not just the administration working on it, it’s not just the Assembly members working on it,” said Caroline Storm, one of the co-conveners of the task force. “It’s community members working on recommendations of what they think will make a difference for everyone in the community.”

The task force says the recommendations will also be likely used for future camps in Anchorage.

“The whole idea is that we have a pilot area, pilot camp this summer and then we continue to work on that,” said Storm.

“A lot of this work is really future-focused,” said Anchorage Assembly member Felix Rivera. “As much as we can incorporate this work into what’s going to happen this summer at the pilot site in Midtown — let’s incorporate it — but I think a lot of this work is going to be future-focused for the possible future-allowed camps in 2024 and beyond,”

There are three remaining meetings for the Sanctioned Camps Community Task Force to look at additional recommendations for the Assembly and the administration. The first one is on June 15, which will look at support services recommendations. The June 22 meeting will look at planning and design recommendations. The last one on June 29 will look at operations and management recommendations.

In the end, these will all just be recommendations, which the task force hopes the administration and Assembly will use as guidelines for the camp. The final recommendations will be presented to the Anchorage Assembly on July 6.