Reno’s City Park of the Week
Pickett Park – 250 Kirman Ave.
(by Renown Hospital – bordered by Mill, Kirman, Ryland)

Pickett Park has everything you’re looking for – if your list includes drugs, insane behavior, dangerous vagrants, garbage, and NO law enforcement

Reno Hot Sheet (RHS) made a thorough visit to Pickett Park this week. It’s beautiful … from a distance of about a quarter mile: a large play structure, green grass and lots of trees, picnic tables, a large covered picnic area, restrooms, and lots of parking. So why, on a beautiful summer day, was there not ONE local resident, or parent with children enjoying this physically lovely park?

Perhaps it had something to do with the 20 – 30 permanent, homeless-by-choice camps sprawled all over the park – camps that the Reno Police and City Hall allow to stay there year-round.

The park’s focal point, the covered picnic area, is 100% taken over by permanent vagrants. RHS interrupted an in-progress drug deal when we walked in under the canopy. Angry, aggressive “lookouts” for the drug dealer and clients were posted on perimeter picnic tables and confronted us immediately – with the lookouts signaling another man to circle behind us. The effect was a  palpably dangerous vibe that would make sure NO parent or child in their right mind would come over there or go into the restrooms. During last winter, RHS saw this covered area sleeping 20+ homeless on a nightly basis, with every square inch packed with their belongings: making large illegal fires, even while space was available EVERY night in city-sponsored shelters and in private programs. The concrete floor of the canopy area has a thick coating of greasy filth that no doubt is connected with the fact that the City locks the public restrooms at 7 p.m. RHS moved on to other homeless camps in the park, the larger ones containing enough detritus to fill a studio apartment. The camp of one “former nurse”, living alone was sprawled over one of the main sidewalk paths leading into the park. She said she’s been there for 3 months and has never been asked to leave by the Reno Police. Claiming she wanted to quit living on the street but that there are no openings available, the illegal park resident said:

• “There aren’t any places I can afford on my $900 per month mental disability check.” (RHS told her that she could live for free at several women’s residence programs)
• “But I couldn’t just go in a shelter and leave my cat.” (RHS told her of local programs and individuals who will foster-care pets for the homeless until they’re back on their feet) The lady immediately switched topics. She went on to say that “tweaking” drug abusers are running around through the park during the day, going from camp to camp, asking for drugs and trying to steal things. She said she was not on drugs or mentally ill, , and then went into a mental episode where she said she knows how to stab someone so effectively that they die very quickly, and then started talking to herself.

When RHS asked the woman about the possible need for her to seek mental health treatment, the woman said, “It’s an 8 month wait.” (RHS reminded her that the Northern Nevada Mental Health Department is on record as saying that they have NEVER refused to start providing IMMEDIATE mental health help to anyone who requested it.

RHS asked the woman why she didn’t ask for medication, a psych evaluation and group therapy – all of which are readily available, and she said she “doesn’t like that stuff.” The woman concluded her conversation with RHS by stating that the Reno Police were “very nice, and never tell me I have to leave my camp.”

On the way out of Pickett Park, Reno Hot Sheet observed a large, old RV that appeared to be permanently (and illegally) camped in the parking lot: one of allegedly 200+ illegal RV’s within the city. Our readership might be interested to know that in our experience, the homeless-owned RV’s, which frequently do double duty as traveling sex services, and distribution centers for drugs and stolen merchandise, typically do not choose to pay the $10-15 fee to dump their sewage tanks when they fill up.

Neighborhood streets, (like yours or mine?) are much more convenient, and the homeless RV owners have few concerns about the major health issues connected with this irresponsible activity.

RHS left Pickett Park with the troubling question: With illegal homeless encampments that are growing exponentially, along with stolen merchandise, illegal drugs and drug sales, and the constant threat of violence:

1) Why are the Reno Police Department and the City Council allowing this crime to continue unchecked?

2) Why are Reno residents not calling the City Council and Reno Police Department constantly until this situation is corrected?

3) Why do our print and electronic media in Reno not make this city-wide problme a top priority until it’s solved?

September 12, 2019