Lingerie, crack pipes found in Grand Junction homeless camp
Grand Junction Correspondent
Vail, CO, Colorado
GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado ” A wedding dress was probably the oddest thing Grand Junction Police Officer Dean Cork found Saturday in a homeless camp at the base of the Fifth Street bridge.
Inmate work crews from the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office that cleaned the homeless camp Saturday morning found crack pipes, a cooking spoon, sleeping bags, needles, tents made out of tarps and a long strip of alcohol bottles 2- to 3-feet deep.
“We found a satin nightie,” one worker announced at the end of the five-hour cleanup.
“Romantic,” said another.
Cork discovered the homeless camp on one of his night patrols. He said he didn’t think the area was as prominent a homeless hangout as some islands on the Colorado River or the tent city west of the Highway 340 bridge. But its proximity to Whitman Park and the Rescue Mission may contribute to its popularity as a party spot, he said.
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No one was there the first time Cork toured the area, but evidence of parties and camping (which is illegal in Grand Junction outside of campgrounds) remained.
“I saw it in the daytime and said, ‘We have to do something,'” Cork said.
He recruited a Mesa County work-ender program crew to bag the rubbish and paint over graffiti on the side of the bridge. Work-ender inmates serve jail time for minor offenses by performing cleanups and tamarisk removal for the city, county and nonprofit organizations on the weekends.
The crew has recently cleaned up homeless camps in Palisade and behind Wal-Mart.
Work-ender inmate Tyler George guessed the crew filled at least 50 bright orange trash bags Saturday morning. He found everything from feces on the wall to deodorant.
“This is nasty,” George said.
All that remained of the settlement by noon were a few glass shards and a mayonnaise packet or two.
Cork said there’s no guarantee people won’t move back in. But he’s working with the Colorado Department of Transportation, which owns the bridge, to get a fence put around the area. More prominent signs should be posted soon too to ward off trespassers.
Reach Emily Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.