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Residents: Lexington park too dirty and dangerous to enjoy

By: Tim Johnston Email
By: Tim Johnston Email

Phoenix Park is known as the center most point of Lexington, and now it's the center of attention for the wrong reasons.

"The situation in the park seems to be getting out of control with the violence," said Rick Debes, who lives near the park, "I'm from New York, originally, and I'd be hard pressed to tell you any place in New York that gives me as much concern as what I'm seeing here, in this park."

Debes and others say they've witnessed attacks, one woman said she saw a rape happen. They even say a man was recently punched while walking his dog, and others are harassed by people begging for money or cigarettes. That's on top of alleged drug use and other things that have just grossed them out.

"I can't walk from my car to my apartment without tracking in poop," described Kristin Kimbrell, who added she doesn't like having all of this issues on her "front yard."

However, it's not just the residents who see the problem at Phoenix park either.

"I see a lot of the stuff that goes on down here," said a man who admitted he visits the park every day. "It's a breeding ground for a lot of stuff like drugs, alcohol, things like that."

Now some residents of the Park Plaza Apartments and nearby businesses are rallying together on Facebook to take back the park, in a group called, "Clean Up Phoenix Park."

"We love living here, I'm just not safe," said group member, Marilyn Begley.

The group said many of the problems come from the homeless people that flood the park to get free food from ministries.

"I'll be more than willing to help them," stated Begley, about the homeless population, "but this park is not a rehabilitation center for the homeless population. It's for everybody to enjoy and nobody in Lexington can enjoy it."

Charlette Thompson, of the Open Door House Ministries, said she serves food ever week, but she wasn't aware of any of the problems described by the residents.

"We don't miss a Tuesday, (and) we never have. Rain, snow, sleet, or hail we are here," she said, adding that this ministry brings her as much joy as the people receiving the food.

As for the City's Parks and Recreation Department, they did not want to comment on camera, and the Director, Jerry Hancock, simply said in a statement:

"We are hopeful the city can come up with a variety of solutions that will help everyone involved."

But the residents and members of the Facebook group want more than that. They say they want to stop being so afraid of stepping out of their front door, and they want to see the Lexington leaders address this problem.

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