Closing time at Beard Brook Park
The effort began Monday to temporarily close Beard Brook Park, where Modesto had allowed the homeless to camp since mid-September.
Police officers worked the hillside camp, ensuring tents were empty, then taking them down. They were making sure to avoid a repeat of the terrible accident in August when a woman sleeping in a homeless encampment near Highway 99 was killed when she was hit by heavy machinery used by Caltrans to clean up the property.
Perhaps a couple of dozen people still were breaking camp and packing belongings into vehicles or carrying them away in shopping carts, in bike trailers and by other means in the morning. But by late afternoon, about a half dozen people were left and were preparing to leave.
Heavy machinery had scooped up the debris and trash left behind in about half of the encampment and deposited the refuse into giant trash containers. This work was expected to wrap up Tuesday. And workers used grabbers to pick up needles and other biohazards and drop them in the plastic buckets they carried.
A few hundred people had been camping in Beard Brook, but many have moved to the homeless camp the city and county opened three weeks ago. It’s a couple of hundred yards away, underneath and near the Ninth Street Bridge in Tuolumne River Regional Park.
Monday was to be spent ensuring that all the homeless claimed their property and left the grounds, said Assistant City Manager Scotty Douglass, who was at the park early in the morning. Workers also were putting up a temporary chain-link fence around the park.
About a dozen new people from Beard Brook showed up the Ninth Street Bridge camp Monday, according to an official with Turning Point, the nonprofit hired to coordinate services at the camp.
Residents at the new camp, which officials are calling the Modesto Outdoor Emergency Shelter, are settling in. For instance, a Modesto City Schools bus stopped by the camp about 3:30 p.m. and seven schoolchildren got off, some carrying school projects, and walked toward waiting family members.