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A Salt Lake City park will temporarily close after community members complained about safety

A photo of a sign that says Madsen Park.
Emily Means
The Salt Lake City Mayor’s Office said the closure of Madsen Park is likely the first time a public park has been shut down because of safety concerns.

Concerns about drug use and dealing along with other issues have led to the upcoming closure of Madsen Park near North Temple and 1000 W.

Margie Broschinsky owns a business in the neighborhood and said she and other community members have exhausted all other options to get to this point.

“We've gone every avenue you could imagine to try to clean up the park, to try to get the criminals out of the park,” Broschinsky said. “I wouldn't even call it a park, to be honest. It's not really a park at this point. It's more of a safe haven for criminals.”

She said she would like the park to reopen with more lighting and cleaner grounds, and as a place where families feel safe recreating.

Incoming Salt Lake City Councilmember Alejandro Puy will represent the area where Madsen is. He said he understands people’s frustration, but he also doesn’t think closing the park is a real solution.

“We shouldn't be pushing [people] from this park to the next,” Puy said, “because this is what's going to happen — we're going to close this park, and they're just going to go to the next place over, and then those neighbors are going to be frustrated. So this is not solving anything.”

Some community organizations provide outreach to people experiencing homelessness at the park. Dave John, with the group Our Unsheltered Relatives, cooks meals there at least once a month. He echoed Puy’s concerns.

“All it’s going to do is just move them to another location,” he said. “We follow wherever they end up at.”

The way Broschinsky sees it, though, is leaving the park in its current state actually does more harm than good.

“It's not that I'm looking at these people like they're not homeless and they don't deserve help,” she said. “They're human beings, so they deserve help. But we're not helping them by allowing them to die in their addictions in a disgusting, filthy park.”

A spokesperson for the mayor’s office said the city recently held a resource fair at Madsen to connect people with services.

City officials said it will be closed starting Dec. 6 for no longer than 60 days. The area will be fenced off and police will continue to patrol there. After that, they’ll evaluate crime data to see if the shutdown had any impact.

Emily Means is a government and politics reporter at KUER.
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