Hemet Community Looks to Reclaim Parks Overtaken by Homeless, Gangs

The parks will be closed one day a week indefinitely as crews maintain the parks

By Andrew Lopez and Jacob Rascon
|  Monday, Feb 24, 2014  |  Updated 4:30 PM PDT
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Parks in Hemet have been taken overrun by homeless people and gangs, according to community members. In an effort to claim them back, police are closing two parks for maintenance in hopes that they will attract families and residents. Jacob Rascon reports live from Hemet for the NBC4 News at Noon on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014.

Parks in Hemet have been taken overrun by homeless people and gangs, according to community members. In an effort to claim them back, police are closing two parks for maintenance in hopes that they will attract families and residents. Jacob Rascon reports live from Hemet for the NBC4 News at Noon on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014.

Two community parks will be closed indefinitely in Hemet as authorities and city officials look to reclaim areas that have been overrun by gang members and the homeless.

Weston Park was closed to the public on Monday, and officials plan to continue the Monday-only closures indefinitely. Gibbel Park is slated for closure on Tuesday, with once a week closures scheduled as well.

“We hope to basically bring the parks to a point where they’re enjoyable for all people to come to, not just any particular group,” Hemet Police Sgt. Mark Richards said. “We would love families to come back to the park the way they used to.”

Community members said the homeless and gang issue have persisted for years, and it appears to be getting worse.

“Definitely getting worse because it’s every single day” one woman told NBC4. “Hopefully these people can get help and find somewhere else to stay.”

During the closures, authorities will patrol the areas and maintenance crews will clean the parks.

City officials hope the push for safer, more inclusive parks will lead to permanent change -- and that includes a solution for the city’s homeless. Officials hope to meet with the homeless to discuss ways to imrpove their living situations. 

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