Bloomington west side encampment: County commissioners approve $24,500 for displacement

An encampment on public property owned by Monroe County government, but inside Bloomington city limits, will be cleared no later than Thursday.

That’s part of the information provided in a $24,500 clean-up contract approved by county commissioners on Wednesday morning.

The general area of the property is southwest of the intersection of Patterson Drive and 2nd Street. It’s just south of the county’s Youth Services Bureau.

The contract with Bio-One NW Indianapolis says the Monroe County sheriff’s office is expected to have deputies enforce a vacate order on or before Thursday, Oct. 6 around 9 a.m.

The work by Bio-One could start on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, around 9:30 a.m.

The B Square documented a notice that was printed on office paper, nailed to a tree along Patterson Drive, which indicates the personal property of encampment residents will be removed and held at the Monroe County Highway Garage for one week.

People who want to get their belongings back are supposed to contact Monroe County’s deputy director of emergency management at 812-325-4321 and follow instructions about how to retrieve their belongings by Oct. 13.

It’s not clear how many people were living on the property. County commissioner Lee Jones described the situation as “somewhat dangerous for everyone living around there or working around there.” Jones continued, “It’s very unfortunate that it happens at all. And really, there’s not much we can do but shut it down and clean it up.”

Jones wrapped up by saying, “Which generally means they just go someplace else.”

The flyover images taken in February of this year for Monroe County’s online property lookup system appear to show indications of an encampment in the same general vicinity where the notice was posted—in the southeastern corner of the county’s property along Patterson Drive.

Bio-One is the same company contracted by commissioners in June for the cleanup of an encampment that was located behind the At Home store, just west of I-69. The contract approved on Wednesday specifies $3,500 per day for up to seven days, which works out to $24,500.

At Wednesday’s meeting county attorney Jeff Cockerill told commissioners that he had coordinated with several organs on the issue—the sheriff’s office, the building and fleet manager, the commissioner’s office and the highway director.

Cockerill said last week the county had received a call that there was an encampment on one of the county’s properties. After confirming the information, Cockerill said the county had started the process to remove the encampment. It’s important to clean up the property so that “it’s not a trash heap with a bunch of needles in it,” Cockerill said.

Responding to questions asked at the public mic by The B Square during commentary time, county commission administrator Angie Purdie said the relevant parts of Monroe County code are Chapter 257 and Chapter 258.

Chapter 257 covers “illegal camping” and Chapter 258 covers the county’s lost and found policy. Chapter 257 includes a provision that posted notice be given 72 hours (3 days) before removing property.

Purdie also described how the situation came to the county’s attention. A neighbor of the property emailed the city of Bloomington. The city of Bloomington then forwarded the email to the chief of police, who then forwarded it to the Monroe County sheriff’s office, who then reached out to county administration.

Purdie also said she had contacted relevant local agencies with street outreach workers, like Beacon, Inc. to let them know what was happening so that the displaced people could be helped. Purdie said, “We’re not criminalizing the situation. We’re trying to not make things harder for them.”

Purdie added, “We’re hoping to get them into a safe environment. But we also have to look out for the public safety of our community.”

Commissioner Julie Thomas followed up on Purdie’s statement about public safety by saying “And public health is a big part of that.”


Posted Notice: Text of the notice posted at the encampment

NOTICE

Storing Personal Property at this location is in violation of Monroe County Code 257.

On October 6, at 8 a.m. any Personal property found at this site will be removed and held either at this location or at the Monroe County Highway Garage, 5900 W Foster Curry Dr. one week.

If the unlawful storage of items is deemed to consist of trash, garbage, or solid waste, or to constitute a significant health hazard, the 72 hour notification need not be given and that Property may be disposed of immediately.

Any person seeking to recover property removed from this site, must contact Justin Baker, 812-325-4321, to receive instruction on how to recover the property by October 13th, at 1 p.m.

Personal Property remaining at the Monroe County Highway Garage after the two week holding period shall be deemed abandoned and subject to disposal as per Monroe County Code 258.2.


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