Stadium Park perked up by clearing of tents, carts


POSTED: Friday, July 24, 2009

Stadium Park in Moiliili had a fresh new look yesterday after the city removed tents, shopping carts and other equipment used by homeless people.

Several homeless people remained at the public park at noon yesterday, but there were no campsites set up.

At least one neighbor was happy.

“;They're all gone,”; said Richard, a tenant of an apartment on Makahiki Way who asked his last name not be used because he was one of several people who had complained to city officials about the homeless. “;When I left for work at 7:15 (a.m.), I noticed the park workers are finally able to cut the grass.”; He also said the noise level was dramatically lower.

Richard wrote a letter to Mayor Mufi Hannemann and complained to police last week after the homeless population in the area increased in the past six months.

“;I was hoping it would go away, but it multiplied. I was very patient because they've been using tents since January,”; he said. “;They have no regard for other people's property.”;

Although he felt bad complaining, Richard said he had heard that one of the nearby apartments has been vacant since February because of the noise from homeless people. He claimed other properties along the park have also had difficulty finding tenants.

He said there were tents on the sidewalk in front of the apartments, that the homeless were taking water from his building and that he found a man asleep on the property.

Police say they have received nine official complaints (not including 911 calls) in July about the homeless at Stadium Park. There were complaints about other parks, including Moiliili, Crane and Ala Wai parks, but none of them appear as bad as Stadium Park, said Capt. Jerry Wojcik, who oversaw the cleanup Wednesday.

“;People are afraid to go in there, and nobody should be afraid to use the park,”; he said. “;It's not the fact that they're homeless. If they were willing to share the park and act civilized and clean up after themselves, there wouldn't be a problem.”;

Before Wednesday, workers would clean the grounds at night because of threats from the homeless, police said. Several homeless citizens refused to move their carts for workers to cut the grass and would threaten workers for emptying garbage cans, officials said. Park users have also complained about not being able to use picnic tables or bathrooms.

“;It's just a sad situation for the neighborhood. Nobody wants to be the bad guy, but enough is enough,”; said Wojcik.

Teresa Padilla, a janitor at McCully-Moiliili Library for 20 years, has gotten to know some of the homeless, but says she has had to kick them off the property almost every day.

“;I have to kick them out 'cause I don't want to end up like that,”; she said, referring to the problem at the park. Padilla often hears complaints from neighbors and has called police in the past when people refused to leave.

“;It's hard for me to deal with them because I'm sorry for them. Nowadays the economy is (downhill). I'm worried about it myself,”; Padilla said.