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City addresses mounting safety concerns over homeless encampment in downtown park

City addresses mounting safety concerns over homeless encampment in downtown park
Published: Mar. 4, 2022 at 6:15 PM EST
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Safety concerns have mounted after a fire broke out at a homeless encampment in a park near where many children play.

Firefighters with the Huntington Fire Department responded to the area just after 3 a.m. Friday.

WSAZ had several viewers reach out anonymously by email over safety concerns about a homeless encampment forming behind the skate park at Harris Riverfront Park, located in the city’s downtown.

In an email, one viewer said, “as parents, we do not feel that the skatepark is safe for them at this time. Memories that we are missing out on.”

WSAZ reached out to the city for an on-camera interview multiple times to address those concerns. In a statement, the city said “they were made aware of the situation by the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District, which oversees the upkeep of the riverfront.”

“This is an ongoing concern that we have been seeking a means to address. The fire at Harris Riverfront Park is an example of the dangers of these encampments, and we are steadfast in determining a solution. This is not acceptable, and we have to work together to assure this never happens again,” said Bryan Chambers, communication director for the City of Huntington.

Producing successful results in the past, Chambers says the Huntington Police Department is taking active steps to work collectively with the Cabell-Huntington Coalition for the Homeless to address this issue.

The Cabell-Huntington Coalition for the Homeless has deployed outreach teams to the riverfront to offer resources and services to individuals, according to Chambers.

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