Sunday, December 2, 2007

Homeless In The Oceanfront Parks

Aggressive homeless persons in the Oceanfront parks has become an issue on the table at the Resort Advisory Commission (RAC).

Wednesday morning the Transportation Committee (which has oversight of the parks) was briefed on the problems there: panhandling, public urination, fornication, sleeping in the bushes, etc. The problem is worst at 17th Street and lessens as you move northward. The root of the problem at 17th Street is believed to be the number of programs for the homeless nearby: three churches serving food, the Lighthouse Center, and the Judeo-Christian Outreach Center. A proposal was made to close the parks, at least during some hours, but nobody on the Committee could support it.

The Oceanfront Enhancement Committee (which has oversight on Behavior issues) took up the issue on Friday morning. Virginia Beach Hotel/Motel Association (VBHMA) Executive Director Nancy Perry had polled the VBHMA Board and nobody could support park closings. Council of Civic Organizations (CCO) RAC representative Henry Ryto informed the Committee that he had spoken to the CCO Executive Committee about the matter and that everyone was opposed to park closings. Virginia Beach Police Department Second Precinct commander Captain Tony Zuccaro called closing the parks "scattering cats" and reccomended that a security guard (not VBPD) be hired to patrol the Oceanfront parks. In the end, a subgroup was named to come up with a comprehensive solution to the problem.

Watch this issue closely if you want to maintain access to our Oceanfront parks.

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