Nearly two years after the park’s closure for renovations, Monroe Park remains off-limits to the public following another delay. Sept. 14 is the latest opening date.
While Monroe Park was supposed to open Aug. 29, the city announced it will be at least a few more weeks before the public can access the renovated park’s amenities. The city blames the delays on the large amount of rain Richmond has experienced over the past few months.
“There was no way we could have anticipated such wet weather,” The Monroe Park Conservancy’s Instagram page said in a post. “We will be pulling the fences away mid-September.”
For regional planning and support agency Homeward, Monroe Park has been an important place to provide services to homeless individuals. Before the park’s closing, the City of Richmond asked Homeward to collect data on the impact Monroe Park had on local homelessness, said Homeward Executive Director Kelly King Horne.
“We wanted to make sure that when the park closed, if that was a critical service, that people would be able to have their needs met,” Horne said.
Before Monroe Park closed for renovations, protests were held arguing that closing the park would have a negative effect on Richmond’s homeless population. According to Horne, Monroe Park and homelessness are often linked more than they need to be.
“That’s a small part of the homeless service provision,” Horne said. “In city conversations around homelessness, there’s a tendency to believe that when Monroe Park closes, there won’t be any services to help homeless people.”
Horne said the majority of services provided for homeless individuals come from different organizations, programs and churches — both local and nationally.
Homeward’s main goal is to end homelessness. While services provided for the homeless through avenues like Monroe Park are critical, Horne said ending homelessness requires a more secure solution.
“We need individuals and families to have stable housing without a time limit,” Horne said. “We need to make sure our community has programs that meet the needs from what people tell us and then as a community.”
Logan Reardon, Staff Writer