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Jamie Baxter park in Houston should not house the homeless



A warming tent at Jamie Baxter Park should have never happened in the first place. If you remember, Jamie Baxter Park got its name in memory of a little boy who got lost and unfortunately lost his life.

This park was to be a place for young children to come and play. Before the park’s improvements get put on hold that warming tent should be removed. I’ve been here for 53 years now and never realized we had so many homeless. Where did they all come from?

Yes, I have empathy for them and know they need a place to go, just not at the Jamie Baxter Park. This park should have been on council’s books years ago for improvements. It’s now 45 years since Jamie passed and I don’t think there’s even a memorial plaque or anything else. Other than baseball and the bleachers there have never been benches or a playground installed so a family could enjoy a short while there with their children.

Maybe even a horseshoe pit. The park is used for July 1 celebrations and fireworks which is how it should be.

Let me refresh or educate your memory.

It’s June 1979 a young boy has gone missing. With help from neighbouring communities the town organized the biggest search of its kind in provincial history. Thanks to 24-year-old Harry Vandenberg, young Jamie was found. More than 350 mourners filed past the open casket containing the little boy holding his favourite teddy bear. Scores more were unable to get in and waited somberly in the streets. Our town of Houston paid for the funeral expenses, the Baxters’ closest friends paid for the headstone. Local businesses paid for the $30,000 for the cost of the helicopter search. A Jamie Baxter Trust Fund was set up to equip the children’s park here in Houston.

My husband Luciano being a brick layer was asked by the Baxters if he would take care of Jamie’s grave and what the cost would be? Nothing, he replied, I’m honoured to have been asked. The Baxters thanked the many people from Houston and surrounding districts who spent so much time and effort in finding their little son.

Please rethink your idea about the park in memory of Jamie. I believe it was meant to be a park for families to come with their children to play and enjoy a day out for the kids to have fun not for a warming tent for the homeless.

If this was done along with what you’re intending to do, people from out of town with their families would want to camp and stay awhile. Don’t you think this would happen? I do. In the case of the park or should I say a memorial park our respect for what it was meant to be has gone down the toilet. Lest we never forget a tragedy that brought our whole community together that created this park.


Georgina Dotto