Chula Vista Park Once Overrun by Homeless Encampments One Step Closer To Possible Renovation – NBC 7 San Diego

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A Chula Vista park described by city leaders as a public health and safety crisis is one step closer to possibly being renovated following an imaginative meeting Wednesday night.

The meeting allowed families to give their input on the future of Harborside Park, and gave city staff a chance to show off what it could become. The park, which sits next door to an elementary school, was shut down earlier this month after it had been taken over by homeless people.

It wasn’t your traditional community input meeting. City employees had cutouts made to scale of various amenities. There were cutouts of a recreation center, skate park, pool and even affordable housing.

A discussion will be held in Chula Vista to decide the fate of Harborside Park, which was recently closed after councilmembers voted to kick out unsheltered individuals in the park.

But parents worry the homeless could come back again.

“My most concern is if the ideas come through, what guarantee do we have the homeless people aren’t still going to be there? Because now they’ll have a lot of places to go there,” said Harborside Elementary School parent Marcella Antoniewicz.

The Superintendent of Chula Vista Elementary School District said no matter what the new park becomes, his goal is to make sure it’s safe for students at Harborside Elementary.

Sixth grader Fernando Herrera went to the community meeting because he has a vision for what he wants to be included at the park when it re-opens. His campus and the run-down park are separated only by a fence that was just recently covered with a tarp, so he says had a first-hand look at the problems there.

NBC 7’s Ramon Galindo shares new concerns over where the homeless population once living in Harborside Park will go next..

“ I was scared if I did laps that they’d yell at me,” Fernando said. “I’ve also seen a bunch of syringes and cigarettes.”

There was so much illegal activity at the park, according to police, that the city voted to shut it down for 90 days until they figured out a solution.

Wednesday’s community input meetings, the first of at least two planned, is part of finding the answer.

While city employees mapped out some of the possibilities, parents and community members wrote down what they like and left other feedback in a survey box.

“Just a safe place for family events where you feel safe to have a birthday party and kids running around on a jumper, don’t have to worry about stepping on a used needle or finding a knife,” parent Sarah Gurule said.

“It should be donated to the school, so it can become an area for sports for the kids that they can have more area to have different types of sports,” added parent April Celedon.

During the last homeless count, there were more than 300 unhoused people in Chula Vista, but the city doesn’t have a homeless shelter. One is under construction.

The second community input meeting is in the works. For now, you can give your input online.

Chula Vista Park Once Overrun by Homeless Encampments One Step Closer To Possible Renovation – NBC 7 San Diego

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