Dallas Parks works to clean encampments from city parks and trails

Cottonwood Park in far North Dallas remains the most often visited park for calls related to unsheltered encampments

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Dallas Park and Recreation says its work to keep parks clean while addressing the impacts of unsheltered encampments continues into this summer.

Dallas Park and Recreation staff recently detailed which parks and trails are most impacted by the presence of unsheltered encampments.

M. Renee Johnson, assistant director of DPR, told members of the Dallas Park Board this week that Cottonwood Park in far North Dallas remains the most often visited park for calls related to unsheltered encampments.

“There’s definitely still work to do,” Johnson told NBC 5. “That’s probably one of our busiest sites as it relates to the unsheltered, but we are gaining traction in those areas.”

Johnson says she can measure the traction in terms of the number of visits to various parks. So, while Cottonwood Park leads with 272 visits by park staff since October 2023, Johnson says the figure reflects proactive steps the department is taking to clean up after encampments are cleared out.

Parks and Recreation staff collaborate with the city’s Office of Homeless Solutions which handles the direct interaction with unsheltered clients to help direct them to services like food, shelter and housing.

Jeff Kitner represents District 11 on the Dallas Park and Recreation Board, which includes Northaven Trail and it’s connection to White Rock Creek Trail and Cottonwood Creek Trail via a pedestrian bridge spanning U.S. 75 that opened last November.

“Sometimes when you come down off Northaven you can see right here, there are encampments,” Kitner said. “The department is doing a good job trying to get those addressed but a lot of times it’s like whack-a-mole. You move folks out, you get their needs addressed but then they come back.”

Kitner says the situation has improved along Cottonwood Creek Trail since the days of significant tent encampments just a few years ago.

“There are encampments, there’s always going to be a challenge on this trail because it’s so secluded,” Kitner said.

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