• Members of Filipino community working to reclaim Jose Rizal Park

    By: Siemny Kim

    Updated:

    SEATTLE - Members of the Filipino community are working to reclaim Jose Rizal Park south of downtown Seattle.

    Despite its breathtaking views of downtown Seattle and Elliot Bay, some community members say the 9.6-acre park has  become an eyesore.

    They're calling on the city to do more to restore and beautify the park.

    “It has been neglected for the past 30 years,” said Maria Orth with the Dr. Jose Rizal Park and Bridge Foundation.

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    She and other members of the Filipino community came together in a first annual unification event at the park Sunday.

    Orth said the park, named after a Filipino national hero, has become a haven for drug use and crime.

    It sits above the homeless encampment off I-5 known as the Jungle.

    The group has stepped up to clean up the park, working with the city.

    But evidence of drug use could still be seen.

    “It's frustrating. It never ends. That’s why what we're running today is to raise awareness this is not going to continue,” Orth added.

    “Jose Rizal is one of 450 parks across the city and the reality is we just need help,” said Jesus Aguirre, the superintendent of Seattle Parks and Recreation.

    Aguirre said the city is in a tough spot.

    “Parks are public spaces. Open and available for everyone. We're trying to find the right balance where we are treating folks in a humane way,” Aguirre added.

    These community members believe the city should do more.

    But in the meantime, will do what they can, too.

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