Tuesday, May 26

Rosa Parks Homeless Park?

Rosa Parks Homeless Park Jax
Rosa Parks Homeless Park
I've driven past the Rosa Parks Transit Station several times since it closed, and I noticed that quite a few homeless individuals line the streets nearby. Since a bus terminal is an eyesore already, and this one is just fenced off, I was wondering if maybe we'd be better off just combining two eyesores into one, making the Rosa Parks Homeless Park out of the bus station. 

When I searched Google for "homeless park success stories," I didn't really find information about parks that catered to the homeless. I wonder why. Would we rather allow homeless folks to line streets and take over actual parks than dedicate a bit of land specifically for them? Why can't the Rosa Parks Transit Station become a transient station? It has seats and some protection from the weather, along with plenty of cement areas for loitering and barrel fires in the winter. It also has lighting and (I assume) some running water. 

All we'd have to add are some self-cleaning bathrooms--the kind that lock every few hours and hose the whole room off. I wouldn't use steam, just in case there's a stowaway looking for a shower. Then again, showers might be just what some of these folks need to feel ready to apply to that next job or whatnot. I am not saying that we need to encourage homelessness downtown, but I'd rather encourage it at the Rosa Parks Transient Station than at the other downtown parks and at whatever becomes of the Landing. 

Taking it a bit further, why not add a few wishing fountains on the outsides of the transient station, so that passersby can make a wish. Someone will be sure to pick up the coins. Besides bathrooms and showers, maybe a simple kitchen could be devised, even if it's more for distribution than cooking. 

Rosa Parks Transient Station Jax
All in all, the location is such that the homeless would be slightly out of the way but within walking distance to all the attractions for easy access to panhandling (with a permit, of course). Being that the Rosa Parks Transient Station is right along a major route through Jacksonville, easy drive-by donations can be made, like a bag of Burger King food, as kind of a toss-and-go. I have some homeless care packs with toothpaste, water, granola bars, band-aids, and more that I would rather toss at a large group than hand to someone disrupting traffic on Atlantic Boulevard. 

Even if we don't want to convert the Rosa Parks Station to a homeless park, maybe the idea of a homeless park in a location of OUR choosing will make sense to local politicians. It's silly to pretend these people don't exist. It's also silly to allow them to take over parks made specifically for the enjoyment of taxpaying citizens. Homeless parks are just a way of admitting that we have some shelter-challenged folks in our midst and then finding the best place for them to congregate with the least disruption to Jacksonville's downtown activities. 

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