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Historic Park's Caretakers Worried Homeless Sullied Its Reputation

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Filthy and dangerous.

That's not the description Dallas's oldest historic park and museum wants people to recognize it by.

But that's the image it's worried it will get now that something unwelcome has popped up adjacent to it. The historic village many remember as "Old City Park" is the city's well-preserved trip back in time to how people lived in the late 1800s.

But to caretakers, it's the way people are living near it that's disturbing the historic park's purpose and discouraging visitors.

Vanessa Spurlock is homeless and started calling a patch of grass outside the park home about five days ago.

"I was in living in tent city. It got kind of dangerous when there were some changes so I just came over here," said Spurlock.

She along with others like her started a blossoming camp site on the fence line of the Dallas Heritage Village.

"The frustration level is getting really really high," said Michael Przekwas, who is on the board of the village.

At 27 acres, it's downtown's largest green space and hosts up to 30,000 school children a year as well as weddings and movie shoots.

"It is very important to the neighborhood," according to Przekwas.

But he says the new homeless camp is too close for comfort.

"They drink, they do things, they harass the staff here, they've been inappropriate around the children and it's just this constant barrage of garbage," said Przekwas.

But the homeless neighbors dispute that.

"We don't bother them, all we do is sleep, we don't use the restroom... we go we go to The Bridge," said Spurlock.

The Bridge is the homeless shelter across the highway.

Police cleared the homeless camp Monday morning after officials with the historic village complained.

But within hours the tents were back and so was the trash.

"It makes me sad. We are just afraid it's a matter of time before something really gets damaged," said Przekwas.

This conflict comes at a time when the village prepares for one of its biggest annual events this weekend when it will be bathed in candlelight.

The dozen or so homeless there said the city told them it will kick them out again this weekend.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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