Cleanup underway at Tacoma park after city shuts down homeless encampment

VIDEO: Cleanup underway at Tacoma park after city shuts down homeless encampment

TACOMA, Wash. — Crews put up temporary fencing around People's Park Wednesday as the work of cleaning up trash-covered grass got underway. For months a homeless encampment of tents and makeshift shelters crowded the park in Tacoma's Hilltop neighborhood, until the city on Tuesday night finally began enforcing a ban on walled tents.

Taylor McKnight came back to the park Wednesday, rooting through a collapsed tent to retrieve belongings as a Tacoma police officer watched.

>>RELATED: Notices to remove tents by Monday posted in Tacoma’s People’s Park

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“I talked to Officer O’Rourke; he was super cool, you know,” said McKnight. “He was really respectful to me, had no problem with me grabbing my stuff.”

Troy Jackson stopped to look over the piles of abandoned tents, trash and property left behind. “I think it’s a tragedy,” Jackson said as he took pictures with his cellphone. He said it was time for the city to step in and clear out the park.

“I think there’s a lot of contamination in here; you can see it,” Jackson said as he surveyed the mess.

Crews are dealing with a large amount of garbage, as well as biohazards such as used needles and human waste. The city plans to reopen People's Park to the public in a week. But that depends on how long it takes to clean it and make it safe.

“It’s based on what kind of material we find in the park as we go along with the cleanup,” said Neighborhood Enhancement Team director Allyson Griffith.

Griffith said campers left the park peacefully and no arrests were made.