AUSTIN (KXAN) — A popular east Austin park is getting attention for all the wrong reasons.

People living near Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Park said drugs and crime are on the rise and it needs to be addressed.

“This walk, when it is dark, I feel a little uneasy,” said Ricky Hennessy, who lives next to the park.

He said he does not feel safe visiting the park or the rec center anymore.

“There is a large and active drug dealing operation just down the street,” Hennessy said. “We are constantly picking up needles, condoms, glass, burnt foil, and this is in the area where the kids would be playing.”

Councilmember Jose Velasquez said he’s aware of the issues as well and is working on solutions.

“Trying to bring more police attention,” said Velasquez. “We have been in constant contact with the police.”

The Austin Parks and Recreation Department told KXAN homeless camps in the park have been cleared multiple times over the last year and a half.

PARD has also hired an overtime Austin Police Department officer to help address safety concerns, but Hennessy said that is only a temporary fix.

“As soon as they [police] are gone everything is back to normal,” said Hennessy.

“From my understanding, it is not necessarily the homeless issue out there — it is the people that drive up to deal drugs,” said Velasquez.

Velasquez said he is holding a meeting with the community in June to find solutions.

Antony Jackson with We Can Now works with the homeless community, and he said years on the streets can take a toll on people.

“Drugs unfortunately are one of the things they can choose to indulge in in order to get by and to cope,” said Jackson.

Jackson said more access to mental health resources and addiction treatment is certainly needed, but it can be hard to get people off the streets and into housing who are dealing with addiction.

“Drug dealers are definitely contributing to people experiencing homelessness, staying homeless because as long as you are on drugs it is hard for you to have a clear mind and make conscious decisions about the things that you need,” said Jackson. “Everyone who is homeless does not choose to do drugs and everyone is not on drugs out there, there are a lot of them that say no to drugs and do their best to stay away from it.”

Hennessey said he wants to see less talking about these problems and more action before something bad happens.

“I don’t why, but the problem continues to persist here,” Hennessy said.