Why Is Grand Junction’s Whitman Park Suddenly Empty?
NOTE: This post was published on November 2, 2022. On that date, Whitman Park had been closed temporarily so city crews could winterize the park. The content of this post is not related to the recent closure (September 2023) of Whitman Park.
Most days you'd expect to see at least forty or fifty people in Whitman Park. Yesterday, November 1, 2022, the west side of the park was coned off. A handful of police vehicles and officers were at the park at roughly noon yesterday. What's going on?
I'll Come Right Out and Say It
Rather than mince words, I'm going to just come right out and say what we're all thinking. Whitman Park, the 2.5-acre park at 4th and Pitkin in Grand Junction, is the park typically occupied by members of the homeless population. It's not uncommon to see fifty or more people residing in the park at any given time. On weekends the park is packed. Where did these people suddenly disappear to?
I Assumed The Worst
When I drove past the park on Tuesday, November 1, 2022, and noticed it closed off, my assumption was something significant was taking place. Upon spotting the police cars and G.J.P.D. officers, I assumed the worst. After looking at the park and noticing it to be completely empty, it was my assumption something profound had just happened. To be honest, it was my assumption the people residing in the park had been forced to relocate.
No Cause For Alarm
According to the City of Grand Junction's Official Webpage, "...closure of Whitman Park beginning at noon on November 1 with reminders provided throughout the afternoon."
Put simply, the park is being winterized. The website adds, "This type of routine maintenance is conducted at all city parks. Park staff are better able to safely conduct maintenance work when the parks are empty. The work at Whitman Park on Tuesday will include winterizing the bathrooms and sprinklers, in addition to mowing and power washing. Parks staff will begin moving equipment and additional dumpsters into place Tuesday afternoon and to ensure public safety, the city will close Whitman Park at 4 p.m."
Why The Police Presence?
It's certainly none of my business, but I can't help but assume some of the residents of Whitman Park didn't vacate willingly. The City of Grand Junction website states, "The Grand Junction Police Department Community Resources Unit will be on hand to provide information about local resources as well as issue free bus passes."
When Will Whitman Park Reopen?
Whiteman Park is expected to reopen to the public on Thursday morning, November 3, 2022.