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Monday, August 26, 2013

Ind. Gov't. - "Monroe County setting limits on the courthouse lawn" Indianapolis tries to address homeless camp under CSX bridge south of downtown

Rachel Bunn reports today $$ in the Bloomington Herald-Times in a story that begins:

Homeless residents are losing another outdoor sleeping area.

On Friday, the Monroe County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to approve an ordinance that enacts “open hours” on the Monroe County Courthouse grounds.

The courthouse grounds will be open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week, and signs will be posted listing the hours. Littering, including solid and semi-solid waste and dead animals, is prohibited on courthouse grounds, as is consuming alcohol on the grounds. A violation of any of these is a Class E ordinance violation.

“This summer, a number of citizens have taken to camping on the courthouse grounds, and the camping activities have resulted in deposit onto the courthouse grounds of trash, garbage and every kind of bodily waste to the degree that public health is being threatened,” said David Schilling, county attorney.

Following the passage of the ordinance Friday, officials can ask those currently camping on the grounds to move, but they cannot impose fines until the ordinance has been published.

The ordinance specifically outlines that individuals have been “leaving trash and garbage,” “consuming alcohol to the point of vomiting” and have been “urinating and leaving human waste on the grounds.”

The long story outlines other problems, including:
In May, the city of Bloomington removed a group of protesters and homeless people who were camped out in the Fourth Street parking garage following complaints about garbage, open containers of alcohol, individuals who were intoxicated and public urination. Following the incident, Mayor Mark Kruzan said no trespassing would be allowed.
Today Diane Penner of the Indianapolis Star has this story - some quotes:
After months of back and forth with city officials and other authorities, the residents of Irish Hill on the south side of Downtown — near Georgia and Davidson streets — have been told to leave the area by 9 a.m. today.

Maurice Young, dubbed the “mayor of Irish Hill,” says nearly 60 residents don’t plan to leave and are willing to be arrested. They’ll be joined, he said, by advocates, elderly nuns and others in the community. * * *

The camp’s population fluctuates, he said, but a few weeks ago, there were 67 in the camp. The city’s Department of Public Works posted signs on Aug. 19 ordering the land to be vacated by today, and since then, about 10 people have moved on. * * *

The city contends the Irish Hill residents are trespassing. Most of the land they are on belongs to CSX — trains rumble and squeal on the bridge over the camp — and part of it belongs to the city, said Scott Manning, a Department of Public Works spokesman.

CSX wants access to the area to do bridge maintenance and cleaning, he said, and some of the shelters are spilling into the public right of way — the sidewalks and the streets.

In addition, businesses in the area have complained and expressed concerns about garbage and human waste at the site, Lotter said.

“It’s a public safety and a public health concern,” he said.

The city has coordi­nated with homeless serv­ices providers to match camp residents with serv­ices, and police officers routinely cruise the camp to make sure all is well, Lotter said.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 26, 2013 08:50 AM
Posted to Indiana Government