WENATCHEE — Wenatchee City Council members were faced with a choice Thursday: develop a small park or allow for more homeless housing.
They chose housing. The consensus from council was that another park in a South Wenatchee neighborhood would be redundant as Lincoln Elementary School and Lincoln Park are within three blocks, according to Mayor Frank Kuntz.
The Women’s Resource Center wants to put 12 to 18 housing units and support buildings on the eastern portion of a park near Cashmere Street to reduce homelessness.
The small park has yet to be named and is at the corner of Cashmere and Marr streets.
The WRC runs a wing of Parkside Place Apartments, which borders the park grounds. Parkside is a 15-unit facility providing permanent housing to residents who earn less than 30 percent of the area median income, have been diagnosed with a mental illness or were previously homeless. Apartments at the Cashmere Street park would serve the same demographic.
In a letter to the city, WRC executive director Laurel Turner said her organization has had “very good success keeping some of our city’s most difficult to house, stably housed.”
Parkside Place Apartments was given to the city in 2009 by businessman Carl Campbell, to be used as a mental health facility. The city turned management of the building over to Douglas County, which manages mental health in the area.
With the exception of the WRC, there hasn’t any recent use of the Parkside property — a lot of it is protected by barbed wire fencing — so the city adjusted the boundaries so it could convert Parkside’s lawn into a park, Kuntz said.
But the Parks Department and the Arts, Recreation and Parks Commission opposed the WRC’s plan. The park was still in the development stage.
A report from the Parks Department showed that staff was concerned the apartments would “visually impact the site for park uses creating the feel of the grounds of a private facility.”
Kuntz said construction would likely begin in 2018. Until then, the city will maintain area, but make no further efforts to develop it into a park.
The apartments would be managed by an on-site manager, Turner said.