“The phrase Hell on Wheels was originally used to describe the itinerant collection of flimsily assembled gambling houses, dance halls, saloons, and brothels that followed the army of Union Pacific railroad workers westward as they constructed the First Transcontinental Railroad in 1860s North America.” (from wikipedia) I was reminded of this term when attending a meeting of residents and business owners in the general Royal Palm and Sunnyslope area tonight. I think it applies to what we are experiencing as the light rail system gets extended further in Phoenix. The huge increase in homeless people coming into our area is similar to what happened at the previous “end of rails” at Montbello and 19th Ave further south.
It is not that flimsy places are being built around us; in fact there have been and are being many improvements to the area once the light rail construction was finished. What made me think of that phrase was the movement of large numbers of wandering people to the new end of rails.
While we don’t know exactly why this group moves with the end of rails, we think it is because there is inexpensive transportation that goes that far. Maybe with hot weather in Phoenix they can ride the rails to keep cool and then they get off at the end to find a place to stay for the night.
Many homeless are camping along the canal that runs along the northern boundary of Royal Palm. There are many signs of drug use on the canal pathway and even in the back yards of adjacent lots.
Things have gotten bad enough that the Quik Trip convenience store at the northwest corner of 19th Ave and Dunlap has had to hire a security guard for the store. And we have heard the the shopping center on the southeast corner has done this as well.
But it is not only the homeless causing problems in the neighborhood. We hear gunshots coming from the apartments neighboring Royal Palm to the east, and residents have mentioned seeing drug deals going down right at those apartments.
The meeting tonight was sponsored by the City Council reps from our area and featured representatives of several city departments that have to deal with these situations, such as the Police. Those representatives described the efforts of their departments to handle the situations, and I admit that there seems to be a lot of work going on.
There were a dozen or so residents of Royal Palm at the meeting, and I estimated that a total of about 100-120 people from the area attended. Some of those people made comments about their experiences or asked questions of the City presenters.
But the problem is not getting solved, and probably won’t be until the end of tracks moves on with the next light rail extension further north and west.
I worked this morning on integrating MailChimp with the Royal Palm Social Club web site. MailChimp will be used to send emails to subscribers whenever a post at the web site is made. People can subscribe from the web site, and I can add them from permissions given to the Club.