City of Burlington Breaks Up South End Encampment | Off Message

City of Burlington Breaks Up South End Encampment


Dylan Berns-Snyder and Nick Walls - KATIE JICKLING
  • Katie Jickling
  • Dylan Berns-Snyder and Nick Walls
Burlington officials dismantled a South End homeless encampment Thursday afternoon, hours after a series of shifting decisions about its future.

The city had anticipated needing to rent a storage locker to keep campers' belongings. But those at the camp gave permission to throw out the remaining tents, and in the end, city workers were able to collect and dispose of the unwanted stuff.

The city has reversed course on the issue several times, even in the last 24 hours.

Yesterday, Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo told Seven Days that the encampment would stay, given that there was no place to store the belongings left by the former residents.

By Thursday morning, city officials decided to remove the camp even if that meant spending tax money on a storage locker.

In the end, Nick Walls and Ashley Baker were the only two remaining at the encampment when city workers arrived early Thursday afternoon, del Pozo said. Walls and Baker moved onto adjacent land owned by a railroad, which the city has no jurisdiction over, he added.

"It's been an instructive 24 hours," said del Pozo.

The city is considering dismantling another encampment at 311 North Avenue, near Cambrian Rise, del Pozo said.

The uncertainty surrounding the city's procedures for addressing homeless encampments might mean that a more rigid protocol is needed in the future, del Pozo said. He pointed to a need to balance public safety with compassion and protection of property.

"We want everybody, including homeless people and the public, to understand what the expectations are when people camp on public land," del Pozo said. "It highlights how difficult an issue homelessness is."

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