Occupy vs. Dane Co. Parks = Mischief Managed

Posted April 23rd, 2013 @ 7:48 AM by

Ok, I guess all is good now. ?

I know there were a whole ton of people who helped make something happen hear, but here’s the updates since yesterday morning when I told you about our accidental occupation of the Dane County Parks.

This email made a few people cringe . . . I just figured it was some type of earth day celebration and they were offering free camping in the Dane County Parks. And I just thought I would thank them!

from: Brenda Konkel
to: parisi@countyofdane.com,
marsh ,
“connors.kevin” ,
om ,
cc: Mayor ,
“Balles, Joe” ,
date: Mon, Apr 22, 2013 at 12:50 PM
subject: Thank you!!!

Thank you for allowing the campers at Lake Farm Park to camp for free. The money was returned for the third time today. It is very generous of you to return the money for Saturday and Sunday evening’s camping. I guess you don’t need our $102 plus the $17 from the new camper that was in our vicinity. I’m so pleased you have finally come around to our side and agree that homeless people should be able to camp for free in the Dane County Parks when there are no other paying customers. I’m surprised you could do this unilaterally without passing a resolution through the Parks Commission or County Board, but I appreciate your generous offer. Is there any limit to the number of people who can stay in the parks for free? Should we just start telling all the homeless folks that they can come join us? Or is this an offer that is only for Occupy Madison? How will you determine who is a member of our group and who is not? Can anyone and everyone now camp for free in the Dane County Parks, or are there some rules we should be aware of?


p.s. Since the folks camping at Lake Farm Park have not been banned temporarily or permanently and have received no warnings or tickets, I’m not even sure if I’m being sarcastic or this is what is really happening. A little communication on this matter would be freaking awesome! Again, just let me know if you need me to put up a tent so you can talk to me or return my emails. The silence is deafening.

A special thank you to those brave enough to sign on to this letter.

April 22, 2013

Mr. Kevin Connors, Director, Land and Water Resources Department
Mr. Darren Marsh, Director, Parks Division
1 Fen Oak Ct.
Madison, WI 53718

Dear Mr. Connors and Mr. Marsh:

We are concerned about the adversarial relationship that again seems to be developing with Occupy Madison campers at Lake Farm Park based on some recent rule changes and/or enforcement practices. Most recently Parks has been enforcing a one tent per site policy against Occupy and has refused to grant them permission to have more, as is allowed under the recently posted provision.

In an attempt to comply with the demand of Parks staff, Occupy was able to obtain new, larger tents, and limited themselves to one tent per site. Despite this effort to comply, the Parks staff have refused to register their sites and insist that the group must leave. What justification does Parks have for making them leave? To the extent people have been asked to leave, who is subject to this decision? When can they come back? Is this a suspension for the remainder of the year? Are they suspended from other County Parks as well?

If there have been rule changes, don’t they need to be approved by either the Park Commission or the County Board? If these are existing rules, is this a case of selective enforcement? Why were campers not aware of the rule(s) in the past? Are they only enforced against Occupy Madison? Have any other groups of six or more been asked to go to the group sites?

Please provide us with answers to these questions as soon as possible.

We understand that the campers want to work out a mutually acceptable resolution. In the past year, it seems that one-way communication from your department has not always achieved desirable results when working with this community. This letter is also to request that you sit down and talk with the campers to resolve this situation. As you stated several times last year, all campers deserve equal treatment in Dane County Parks.

Thank you for your anticipated cooperation.


Supervisor Heidi M. Wegleitner
Supervisor Leland Pan
Supervisor Al Matano
Supervisor Dorothy Krause

cc: County Executive Joe Parisi

I”m shocked, I actually got a communication from the county!! I’m trying to remember, but it might be the first EVER response I got from the parks staff. Perhaps this is a good sign.

from: Marsh, Darren
to: Brenda Konkel
cc: “Parisi, Joseph” ,
“Kostelic, Jeffrey” ,
#County Board Recipients ,
om ,
Park Commission Mail ,
“Connors, Kevin”
date: Mon, Apr 22, 2013 at 5:39 PM
subject: Lake Farm County Park Campground

Hello Ms. Konkel,

You and your group of campers were informed on Tuesday night April 16th that you were in violation of the campground rules. The campers organized as a group with at least four camping units per site. This is not allowed under campground rules. Those rules allow one camping unit per site. Due to your noncompliance with the rule, we offered you the group camp areas, including one at Lake Farm County Park, otherwise you were to leave the park for noncompliance of park rules.

When you met with Park staff on Friday afternoon April 19th you, Dan Callahan and Brian Golden, informed staff that your group had voted to not use the group camp area and would be moving out of the Park. You then requested that the group be allowed to remain in the campground until Saturday April 20th at which point you would leave by 3:00 PM. We agreed to honor your request. However, the group did not leave the campground by 3:00 PM. Campers have subsequently spread out to various sites and some still remain. Up to this point we have not authorized an re-registration of camping permits from the group.

The Parks Division will now allow those campers remaining at the Park to reregister for a campsite by 3:00 P.M. on Tuesday, April 23, 2013. The campers will be expected to follow all park rules, including one camping unit per site. As a reminder an individual who will be camping on the site must register for the campsite and be an occupant of the site. Any future violation of Park Rules will result in the termination of the permit(s). At that time all persons present on the site will be ordered to leave the park property. Based upon advice of counsel, the failure to comply may result in arrest for trespass.

Darren Marsh

No problem, we have one camping unit per site (after spending $825 on 3 huge tents) and we have been registering with someone on the site – but they were still giving us our money back. Interesting they decided to treat the “group” as individual sites at this time and . . . several people have pointed out the word “may” – I’m not worried about trespassing tickets, but it is a huge threat to the campers and I’m so tired of all the posturing and bullying of vulnerable people.

Also, the facts they keep saying are not correct. We said we would try to leave this weekend, but we have no place to go and needed to ask. And, the place we were planning on going was not available. I also told them that we would be out Saturday or Sunday if possible, because we needed to arrange for porta-potties, etc. Also, they never told us to be in compliance by Wednesday morning, they told us to write a letter requesting an exception and that Darren would be out Wednesday morning to talk to the campers. He appeared, but took pictures from his car and didn’t approach the campers. Water under the bridge . . . for now.


from: Brenda Konkel
to: “Marsh, Darren”
cc: “Parisi, Joseph” ,
“Kostelic, Jeffrey” ,
#County Board Recipients ,
om ,
Park Commission Mail ,
“Connors, Kevin” ,
Mayor ,
“Balles, Joe” ,
“Mahoney, David”
date: Mon, Apr 22, 2013 at 7:11 PM
subject: Re: Lake Farm County Park Campground

A sincere thank you this time. Seriously.

Thank you to everyone who helped to resolve this issue. And please, in the future, if there is something we can do to make this easier – please let us know. Direct communication is the best, we’re willing to meet with you at any point if you give us a bit of notice. Also, we realize that, especially with this rainy weather, that we can be hard on the camp sites and would be willing to discuss ways to make sure we are caring for the camp sites in the best possible manner. If there are other issues developing, please bring them to our attention and we will do our best to address them. We actually don’t want to make this difficult, you are just our last legal (and expensive) option in the City and we understand that homelessness is not an issue the Parks Department is trained to deal with.

Also, we want to make it clear, we have 3 sites, with 6 campers each. There are additional people there on other sites that are not part of our group along with others who come there daily to take showers – they are not with our group. Our tents are the blue 10 man tents with three rooms that have tarps over them.

Again, thank you for resolving this issue and be in touch if there is anything we can do.


Thank you to everyone who made calls, emailed and otherwise expressed your concern about this selective enforcement of the rules to elected officials and others. I’m sure this is not over, but at least there is a safe place for people to sleep for now. Anyone want to take bets on the next issue they have with the campers? I think it will be a long, long summer . . . if only there was another legal place to go . . .this will cost us nearly $9,000 for 6.5 months, plus the costs of moving every two weeks. And in October . . .

Categories: | Dane | Madison | Media

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