El Cajon begins multi-million dollar improvements to Wells Park
EL CAJON (KUSI) — The City of El Cajon has started to make improvements to Wells Park, the city’s second largest park.
The master plan, which has been in the works for the last year and a half and was approved in May, will upgrade infrastructure and security, by renovating the bathrooms, adding more fencing, lights, and security cameras.
Two park rangers will also be assigned to patrol the 18-acre park. Mayor Bill Wells said the improvements will cost at least $3 million.
According to city officials, the restrooms in the park will be shut down next week as renovations begin. In the meantime, the city will bring in smaller restrooms that are easier to manage and in the opinion of the mayor, less likely to harbor illegal activities.
“We’ve been talking about improving the park for a while, but are we reacting right now to the increase of homeless people living in the park? Yes, that is true, and so we are going as far as the law allows us to make sure that we keep parks safe for kids or families, and we’re doing everything we possibly can – which is walking a fine line sometimes but we are doing everything we can to take back the park, “ Wells said.
Ron Raas, who has been living on the street and frequents the park, said the police have been giving the homeless too many tickets, and taking away their possessions.
“Ain’t that robbery?” Raas asked.
“Yeah, where else can you go? If you were in my shoes, what the hell would you do? If everybody that complained about us were to walk an hour or five minutes in our shoes, I tell you what, there’d be a whole different outlook on the homeless," said Tracy Deeks, who became homeless after her husband lost his steady job.
The city does not have an anti-loitering ordinance, but it does have a ban on overnight camping. Mayor Wells said other capital improvements such as putting in a soccer field or building a water park could be added to the park plan later.
The changes and renovations will be made in stages, spanning the next several years.