Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

February 21, 2006 > Letter to the Editor: Housekeeping at the Depot

Letter to the Editor: Housekeeping at the Depot

There is a persistent problem at the Centerville Train Depot involving the homeless and vagrants. For some time now, certain individuals have been effectively "living" in the waiting room of the Depot all-day, seven days a week. Personal effects of the homeless are kept in the waiting room of the depot, including but not limited to canned goods, underwear, backpack, sleeping bag, extra clothing, etc. These personal items are usually placed under the waiting room bench and inside the timetable storage boxes.

Recently, door hardware was removed from one of the waiting room doors and window sash stops removed, probably to permit easy access to the waiting room at night. Building Maintenance needed to replace the missing window sash stops. There have been times when I arrived at the depot in the morning to catch a train to San Jose and found someone sleeping under the waiting room bench. Sometimes in the evening, vagrants occupying the depot turn out waiting room lights to discourage passengers from coming into the waiting room. On other occasions, they will lock the doors from the inside so passengers cannot come inside to wait for trains. This has got to stop!

I volunteered many years ago to keep the waiting room stocked with train and bus timetables as a public service to visitors to the depot and for train users. I also, as a public service, regularly straighten up the depot's waiting room to keep it neat and orderly. However, I did not volunteer to clean up after filthy, foul smelling vagrants who "live" at the depot. The restrooms at the depot are used as bathing facilities by the homeless. In addition, and a primary reflection on Centerville and the City of Fremont, is the unwelcome facade this presents to visitors and users of the depot.

Passengers waiting for trains must contend with sitting next to a homeless person in the waiting room who may not have changed clothes for a week or more and exhibits odd behavior. Most depot visitors choose to avoid the waiting room altogether to avoid the unpleasant individuals who "live" at the depot. The vagrants gather in groups during the day thereby intimidating passengers from going inside the waiting room. They also leave their beer cans, wine bottles, and trash behind, strewn in the landscaping and around the perimeter of the depot.

My New Year's resolution is to no longer be a janitor that cleans up after these people. The restored 1910 Centerville Depot is an historic treasure that should be protected and cherished by the City of Fremont. Instead, I see it being neglected and becoming an unwelcome place for train passengers.

I hope to see some improvement in the near future.

Bill Wullenjohn

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