Public Sex Enrages Heartside Park Neighborhood

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.- Officials have been trying to improve Heartside Park for years, but is the million dollar investment paying off? 

 The city invested more than $1 million on the facility which sits right next to the nearly $30 million Downtown Market. Despite those structural improvements, though, the park has become a hot bed for crime and drug abuse.

 Police say they’re cracking down, and the number of arrests has gone up.  In 2010, there were six arrests at the park.  So far this year 45 people have been arrested.

A particular incident that happened last week has several in the community outraged.  A woman was arrested for having sex, completely naked with several men behind the bathroom area, with children playing nearby.

The Grand Rapids Police Department agrees it’s a nuisance and has stepped up patrols in the area.  Their presence is seven times higher in the first part of 2013 than in 2010.

 “We`ve made arrests down there for crack cocaine, we`ve made arrests for different drugs across the board,” said Captain Daniel Savage of the Grand Rapids Police Department.

 Reverend Leonard McElveen of Mel Trotter Ministries, which is just around the corner from Heartside Park, is also concerned.

 “We`re compassionate toward the park, toward the community because this is for the Heartside community and we are an advocate of that helping people,” he said.

Despite the increase in awareness and police patrols, though, there are still fears that criminals will taint the new $30 million dollar downtown market and other future developments nearby.

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  • Jdmcmt

    Never understood how the city's police headquarters are within blocks of the Heartside district and yet we can't keep the criminal element at bay… Pass by the corner of Cherry and Division where the city also spent tons of money on a new park and you'll see that nothing is being done (or not enough) to curb the drug culture. You can tell by the look you get from the boys standing there nodding their heads upwards… why can't that, along with the people sleeping under the highway by the new market be taken care of?

  • L.Dukk

    the park has become a hot bed for crime and drug abuse??That Whole Area Has Always Been A Hot bed For Drugs,prostitutes And Some Of The City's Worst Crime As Far Back As the 1980's You make it sound like it's a new crime area!!

  • laz

    Do anyone else find it disconcerting that "A woman was arrested for having sex, completely naked with several men behind the bathroom area" and no mention is made of the consequences for those men?

  • A resident

    I lived a block away for 2 months now and am pretty disheartened such a nice park is overrun by bums and addicts. If you go there in the daytime, the picnic shelter is overrun by homeless people until the shelters open up to let them back in at night. Go under the Wealthy Street bridge and you'll find mattresses and people living there. Just the other day I saw a guy urinating in a bush at the park not even ten feet away from a woman walking past on the sidewalk minding her own business. Move the homeless shelters out of the area and the problem will go away. I think it's inevitable with all the new development going down Ionia St, the new Market, and new apartment buildings going up that the pressure for these organizations that attract these types will be moved permanently.

  • joethecabdriver

    This sort of thing goes on at parks all the time. It's called dogging and its adherents tend do this sort of thing at secluded parks late at night and mostly practice discretion. Something that bored married couples may choose to engage in with the help of Craig's List. These were probably drug and alcohol addicted Heartside bums who hardly have a problem with defecating in the doorway of a Heartside business, much less fornicating in public in close range of children. This sort of the thing goes on in the Heartside all the time because of lax police enforcement. As a resident of that area, I must say that it is the worst thing about living there.

  • Claus

    OK people, the sex thing…. that's gross and should be dealt with. The drugs, yup, frustrating. But lets look REALISTICALLY here. Crime follows poverty. That is statistically and anecdotally proven. Why are we surprised that this crime is happening in an area just outside of our "downtown" where the missions and shelters are. As for the person who suggested that they move the shelters…… ok, do that. The homeless population will definitely lower, but it won't go away entirely. Also, YOU HAVE NO HUMAN COMPASSION!!!!!! How about we stop talking about our homeless like they are trash and start treating them like humans with problems. You don't like it… MOVE!

  • joethecabdriver

    The problem of homelessness is something that our society has failed to address on a large scale. In the meantime, law and order should prevail. There will be poor areas. Let's protect the residents of those areas by upping the police presence.

  • lakelover

    Why not protect the homeless people, too? Protect them from poverty and a dehumanizing attitudes. Treat the mental illness and drug addiction. Put a priority on all human life instead of speaking of them like they are some diseased tumor, not connected to the larger human body. We need to stay in our communities, speak up for the lowest among us, not flee from our problems. It's not good enough to say, "It will always be this way."