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.