ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) – For one camper in Cuddy Park, the people living in tents scattered throughout Midtown Park are just like any other Anchorage neighborhood.
“They look at each other here. It’s very (very) community,” said camper Jessica Smalls.
Small arrived with his son after the car was impounded a few days ago. He said the park community took him in.
But this residency is short-lived for Small and his new community. On Wednesday, cut-off notices were sent to campers, giving them two weeks to pack up and leave.
“It is disappointing. You would think they would be more helpful or give you some kind of resource to help. I think you feel left out,” Smalls said.
On March 2, Parks and Recreation Director Mike Braniff told reporters that “people are not required to leave because there is no shelter, which is one of the requirements of the reduction.”
On Thursday, an Alaska news source reached out to Braniff about why the cutbacks were announced this week.
“That might be more than I can answer for myself,” Braniff said. “It’s a lot of departments that are weighing up the decision. And ultimately, it’s up to the Law Department to tell us if we can legally make the reduction, in their opinion. And they told us we could in this case and that’s what we went ahead with.”
The three-day music festival will be held in Cuddy Park on June 16-18. According to Braniff, hosting a concert in a park when campers are nearby poses safety risks.
“When you have any alcoholic beverages – an alcohol-free event – and just a large amount of people … a concert organizer is expecting up to 7,000 people a day at a concert, I think we’re just identifying that there’s a potential for problems. We want to push forward,” Braniff said.
For those who call Cuddy Park home, it’s a disappointment.
“It puts the underclassman as a sophomore,” Smalls said. “Like, it was unfair. How can they do that? “
In the absence of a city-run shelter, the camp’s residents are unsure where they will end up. They will have until June 6 to go elsewhere.
“We do not have a sanctioned camp where we refer people. We don’t carry people. So we don’t tell them where to go,” Braniff said.
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