City Officials Work Through Complications of Having Homeless Stay in Beard Brook Park

MODESTO -- The homeless community has made Beard Brook Park in Modesto their home now for weeks but some are concerned with the living conditions.

Hope the dog is James Pack’s best friend. They’ve been through thick and thin, from park to park and tent to tent for the past six months.

When FOX40 first met Pack weeks ago he was living in Modesto's Mono Park, unable to afford rent since his wife died of cancer three years ago.

Now, Beard Brook Park is his home. The City of Modesto recently opened up the park to the homeless since a federal appeals court ruled last month it was illegal to cite people for sleeping on public property when there are no other options.

Misty Eckherdt, one of many volunteers, said it is a good start.

"The homeless population is growing tremendously. There’s families out here," Eckherdt said.

A city spokesperson says they are actively looking into other sites as Beard Brook is a temporary option.

Eckherdt says the people there are concerned about bed bugs and body lice since there are no showers. The park also recently had a parvo scare.

"A single dog had parvo that was taken care of," Eckherdt told FOX40. "It was isolated to the best we could. The dog did pass away."

Another concern is the portable toilets.

"They keep overflowing but we got one guy comes in twice a week. They need to bring them in more than twice a week," Pack said.

A city official says they may be adding washrooms and dumpsters and that law enforcement conducts periodic safety checks.

"I’d really like to see the chief of police open up some more of Beard Brook Park just to make more room," Eckherdt said.

The city spokesman adds the orange fences keep campers away from the river.

Volunteers and the homeless also say they are worried people will be pushed out of the park with the upcoming RecFest.

"It's going to be bad because everybody is gonna be all crowded," Pack said.

The spokesman says some people may be moved and they'll open more of the park if there's a need.

Pack, who is a Vietnam War veteran, says he recently sought help from Veterans Affairs. The process may take months. For now, he’ll be on the streets with Hope.

The city spokesman tells FOX40 the city recently hired a part-time liaison to communicate the needs of the homeless to the city.