Occupy Responds to Parisi’s Offer

Posted November 17th, 2012 @ 4:00 PM by

They are suggesting we should move to Token Creek Park Campground. Here is our response.

Occupy Madison Responds to Offer to Move to Token Creek

November 17, 2012

Dear County Executive Joe Parisi:

Thank you for sending staff to talk to us late Friday afternoon. Last night, 2 hours after hearing of this proposal to move to a county park the group met to discuss your offer. The group may be able to move to a county park. The group finds merit in the offer, however, the group voted unanimously that Token Creek County Park Campground is unacceptable for the reasons noted below. The group would like to propose Lake Farm Park as an alternative.

Our primary concern is that Token Creek is very isolated and the transportation challenges seem insurmountable. It’s 7 miles further from where we are camping now, no city buses run there and there is no safe way to ride a bike to this location. People who are residing at camp need to get to work, access services and look for work and housing. While we understand that transportation details have not yet been worked out, a proposed van shuttle twice a day at 8am and 4:30pm will not allow people to get to Labor Ready or Premiere by 5:30am for work or to eat at the Luke House in the evening. It also means that someone with a 1:30 meeting downtown would have to spend the whole day waiting for a ride for one simple appointment. There is also the issue of someone missing the shuttle for various reasons that would mean either missed appointments or a night alone downtown without sleeping gear. Furthermore, we cannot move with the mere promise that transportation will be worked out on Monday morning, not knowing what those solutions might be.

Secondarily, while the offer of a porta-potty and access to fire is a huge improvement, we still need access to water, electricity and showers. Being isolated will make it much harder for those supporting the camp to regularly stop by and make sure the water supply is adequate and we would like to have a reliable source of water for us to obtain the water ourselves. Also, we understand that the showers and restrooms will be locked and we will not have access to showers. A shower at the truck stop will cost $9 plus a $5 deposit. In order to get a shower, a person would need to spend the whole day downtown.

We believe that there is a much better solution at Lake Farm Park where the bus is only 3/4 of a mile walk and it is on a bike path and closer to services and work options for people. Additionally, while we can limit our access to the Lussier Heritage Center, we would be able to get water on a regular basis. Monthly low income bus passes for people would be much less expensive than staffing and gas for a shuttle that is fairly inflexible.

We also feel the need to respond to several other issues raised in your letter dated November 16, 2012.
In solidarity with Occupy members who have been banned from the parks, we respectfully request that if Lake Farm Park is approved, that people who were only banned for the camping season which is now over, be allowed to remain with the group since that ban is no longer in effect.

There were some issues that were not answered as well. Would we have access to electricity, what would happen if there was an emergency or a blizzard and we were stranded in this fairly remote location and you did not answer our request for local Madison bus passes?

Please understand that there are no private properties in the City of Madison properly zoned to continue an encampment. We need a piece of property zoned conservancy with a property owner willing to apply for a camping permit. The only properties in the city that meet those descriptions are owned by the city, county, university or state or are private golf courses. There is no legal place to go.

Finally, we would like to thank the Human Services staff who have taken the time to meet with several people one on one and understand their situations. As you have discovered, there is no one size fits all solution and for many, there are not viable options immediately. Without a guarantee that people will not be back out on the streets this winter, the group is not willing to take temporary solutions that may result in forcing another encampment in a month. Furthermore, after further investigation the Dane County and City of Madison Public Health Department has found both live and dead bed bugs in both men’s shelter 1 and 2. Given this situation, we do not believe that shelter space is available.

While we appreciate that you have finally opened up communication channels, this was a very short timeline to discuss this matter and prepare a response. We believe there is a way to amicably work this out for the short term if communication continues in a respectful manner. We would like to invite you to our daily camp meeting on Monday at 5:30 at 1202 Northport.

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