Proposal to 'crack down' on people sleeping, using alcohol in Holland parks overnight

New rules possible for Holland parks

HOLLAND, MICH. (WZZM) - There is a new effort in Holland to crack down on people sleeping in city parks overnight, and in some cases, breaking the law.

City leaders are now looking to expand the hours that the parks are closed.

The city's video cameras have caught some of the activity at Centennial Park downtown.

You can't get a much closer view of the beautiful Centennial Park than from Holland city hall, but city leaders are not liking everything they're seeing. 

"We have had public urination, we have had consuming alcoholic beverages," says Andy Kenyon, director of Holland Parks and Recreation Department. 

The main concern is the overnight hours.  The city has two cameras monitoring the activity at Centennial Park.

City leaders shared one image that shows a person sleeping in the gazebo this week.  

"People sleeping overnight on benches, they've come to realize the park was closed from 12 a.m. to 3 a.m. and then they'll be back at 3:01 a.m.," says Kenyon. 

Now, city leaders are proposing to close the parks for longer hours overnight from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.

"To really kind of crack down on how people are spending their time and where they're spending their time in the parks," says Kenyon. 

In the meantime, city cameras are rolling 24-7.

"I think video especially will allow them to identify who these individuals are," says Darryl Bartlett, executive director of the Holland Rescue Mission. 

The Holland Rescue Mission is just a few blocks away from Centennial Park.

"Recently hearing about the increase of this kind of behavior at Centennial Park, we've got more staff that are now frequenting that and really we want to compel those folks to come in," says Bartlett.

"We've actually offered some of them the opportunity for employment if they're looking for jobs," says Kenyon.

City leaders say they want everyone to be able to use the park and the gazebo.

"With a group of people monopolizing that space they can't do that," says Kenyon. "We have from time to time had to have people move out before a wedding ceremony could take place."

He says they've looked at the issue in other parts of the city for years.  However, it appears finding a quick solution hasn't been a walk in the park

City leaders say the new park proposal will likely be voted on during one of the upcoming council meetings.
But that has not been scheduled yet.

(© 2016 WZZM)


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