Abandoned Denton Homeless Encampment a Safety Concern, Say Officials

The city of Denton plans to clear what appears to be abandoned homeless encampment at North Lakes Park

Citing health and safety concerns, the city of Denton is removing a large homeless encampment located in the city's largest park. It appears no one currently lives in the tent city in North Lakes Park. But whoever was there left behind a huge mess.

In a wooded area on the front nine of the disc golf course at North Lakes Park – there's a hazard. One which city of Denton officials say is littered with trash, drug paraphernalia, and other dangers.

"For a while it wasn't bad. You'd see a guy in the tent down there and he'd keep it clean," said Brant Anderson, of Krum. "Then it just came to where you'd see a city forming in the back."

Anderson plays the course every day after work. He's talking about the mess of discarded clothing, tents, personal belongings and trash – that litters the woods just off the course's 6th hole.

"They're just destroying the woods, that's our deal," said Anderson, who's with the disc golf club Denton Bomb Squad. "Say we throw a disc off the fairway. I have my son with me. I say, you stay out here, I gotta go in there."

Now, the city of Denton – is going in there. But only after careful consideration.

"We approach these things very carefully, very thoughtfully, very empathically," said Sarah Kuechler, city director of public affairs.

Denton's position on the delicate issue of homelessness – try first to get people the help they may need. But outreach workers, who've made several trips to the tent city since first discovering it last fall, say it appears no one lives there now. So the mess has to go.

"We've monitored the site aspects to the point now where we feel it is a major public health and safety concern," she said. "Where we need to go in and clean that site up."

The city is now spreading the word at local homeless shelters, regarding its plans to remove the encampment. The move, say city officials, will give people a chance to collect any belongings they may have left behind. Signs will be posted near the site this week, letting the public know of the cleanup.

Contractors are expected to remove the trash, tents and other items on Monday.

Park users who complained about the encampment – say they'll be glad to see it go.

“We're just trying to keep the peace," said Anderson. "But keep it clean out here."

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