Homeless camps at Gillis Park draw concern

Some people are outraged over growing homeless camps at Gillis Park in South Austin. Tents are set up just feet away from a playscape at the park.

“I want my kids to feel safe,” Joshua Lee said. “I want my wife to feel safe when she goes to a public park.”

Lee lives near Gillis Park, a park he said he no longer can take his kids to following recent homeless camps popping up nearby. 

“There was a guy throwing punches and kicking, and he's half naked, there's drugs, there's trash, and I really feel there is no way to get help,” said Lee, who feels the recent activities taking place at the park are becoming a concern.

The park has tons of bags by trees, tents, and a covered area taken over by shopping carts, bikes and other stuff. 

“My wife and I will see the cops come around in the neighborhood,” Lee said. “They'll drive right past and keep on going. You would think seeing a large area of trash would change everything.”

Others who live near the park are also concerned about what goes on there now. 

“There's sketchy activities in the evenings there's drug deals and fights between homeless people,” said John Stolz. 

“There's a lot of people out there that are drinking that are doing things that are not good for the community so it does concern us a little bit,” said Sam Gupta.

A man who was hanging around one of the tent areas and did not want to be identified said for parents to focus on their kids when asked about the concerns those who use to enjoy the park have.

“Just focus on your kids and they will focus on you, they won’t pay attention to this,” he said while waving to the nearby camp.

Under Austin’s updated sit and lie ordinance, camping in park land is not allowed, but Lee said that's not stopping what's happening at the park. 

“Even though they are not supposed to be in these certain areas they are,” said Lee. 

After calling police, the city and even posting to the neighborhood social networking app NextDoor, he said nothing is changing. 

“I feel there is no outlet for us currently and no one to speak to,” Lee said.

He said if the park continues to be in the state it's in, families will just stay away.

Austin police said they have alerted the police representative for that area when asked about the status of Gillis Park.