Souki said authorities will sweep the estimated 120 hardened encampments the night of closure. Homeless outreach workers have already begun the process of letting illegal campers know there is space at shelters on the island.
“It’s reached a point where we just can’t manage it,” Souki said. “It’s not easy to say it, but I want the park to be safe. Right now, with dog attacks and exposed wires and broken plumbing, it’s just not safe. We need to shut it down and take a pause.”
Souki estimated that fixing the damages brought on by the encampments could cost nearly $500,000.
“They’ve broken into and exposed wires on about 30 poles,” Souki said. “They’re breaking the metal plates that cover the wiring and splicing extension cords to run TVs and such things in their tents. We also have broken pipes with water leaking everywhere. The number of tents is killing the grass.”
There is no timetable for when the parks will reopen, but Souki said he hopes to at least have Gateway Park open in a month.