Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Friendship Park to close for five straight days

Despite an assurance and expectation I had that Friendship Park would try harder to have dependable hours of operation, notices at the park this morning tell us that unfriendly management will be closing the park for five straight days beginning this coming Saturday — for reasons that are undisclosed.

The Park has an irresponsible — and now, clearly, very much ongoing — history of mysteriously and suddenly closing the park at seeming whim and on the fly.  Reasons given for closures have been finding evidence of drug dealing or alcohol use; seasonal cleaning and modifications; and punitive closure when some denizens are seen running into the park when the gates have been opened in the AM. Garren Bratcher and Jim Peth are cited at the Loaves & Fishes webspace as Co-Program Directors for the park; Libby Fernandez is the Chief Executive Officer of Loaves & Fishes.

The suspected reason the park will be closed from October 3 to October 7 is for cleaning and winterization. Winterization includes installing heaters in the center of the park where there are big-gazebo-like structures with tables and chairs for socializing.

While it appreciated that the park needs servicing from time to time that must be done when denizens of the park are absent, it is a mystery why a five-straight-day closure would be required — and how it can be that the oh-so-self-righteous Loaves & Fishes management, so keen to march for homeless civil rights, can deny homeless people access to basic services for such an extended period.

In the far past, Loaves & Fishes' park was open seven days a week to give homeless people a place to be. For the past many years, Loaves & Fishes has not been open on weekends, closes at 2:45pm, and rather frequently is closed on weekdays, or has foreshortened hours of operation.

Update 9/30 3pm:  Libby Fernandez emailed me, writing, "We do need to close Friendship Park for the 3 days (M-T-W). We will provide showers Monday and Tuesday. We need to do repairs in the Washhouse on Wednesday. ¶ We will open the park for guests to access their lockers each day at 10 am and 1 pm."

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