By Yaron Steinbuch
Drug-addled vagrants living in a Seattle neighborhood are beating the summer heat with a swimming pool that has recently been erected in their encampment – and nearby residents are up in arms.
A video posted by local news outlet KOMO shows the above-ground pool, with a ball floating on the water, surrounded by an assortment of wooden planks and debris on the dilapidated property in Highland Park.
A woman is seen apparently taking a fentanyl hit as she sits on a filthy couch near the incongruous watering hole along the freeway between SR 509 and Myers Way.
“All of this is ludicrous,” Herb Egge, a resident of the Arrowhead Gardens apartments for seniors across from the encampment, told KOMO. “These people come in and totally trash the place. Someone told me they hooked up a hose and filled a swimming pool with it.”
The irate resident told the outlet that his vehicle has been broken into several times since the encampment sprouted in the crime-infested city, adding that someone had just broken into his gas tank.
“I never dreamed I would have to worry about things like this when I was 72, but times have changed. As elderly people, especially, we should not have to worry about our possessions or our lives,” Egge told KOMO.
Another resident, Cheryl Galyeam, also expressed her fears about the violence.
”When I hear the shooting, I stay down and away from the windows. There are times I’ve had to get on the floor in the middle of the night. It’s not safe,” Galyeam told KOMO.
“We thought, ‘Oh wow, there’s been a homicide there. They are going to give us some attention now.’ They didn’t,” another resident, Diane Radischat, told KOMO.
“We want the solutions, and we know what the problems are. When you’ve had the same problem repeatedly in different locations, you know what needs to be done,” she added.
Radischat said she has received a letter from Mayor Bruce Harrell’s office informing her that the city, the state Department of Transportation, and the King County Regional Homelessness Authority are working on a plan for the encampment.
”We recognize that this has been a long and often frustrating process for residents at Arrowhead Gardens, and we are pleased that we are moving closer to a site resolution,” the letter reportedly states.
“The Unified Care Team is also discussing with WSDOT possible short-term activation strategies following site resolution to help prevent repopulation,” it adds.
It soared to 21.9% over the last 12-month period ending Jan. 31, when 2,799 overdoses were reported, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Even people who have been personally affected by the fentanyl crisis in the state are shocked by the numbers but quickly acknowledge cracks in the system.
“The 12-Step Plan doesn’t work for someone like my son who had mental health issues,” said Laurie Satushek, of Bellingham, Wash., who lost her 29-year-old son to a fentanyl overdose in April. “Tough love doesn’t work with people who are mentally ill like my son. They could care less if you arrest them for a misdemeanor or whether it’s a felony.”
The Seattle City Council recently voted to ultimately reject the state’s public drug use legislation that would’ve allowed the city to prosecute people who are using drugs in public.