Summit Metro Parks gives notice to Akron's homeless
to clear way for Freedom Trail construction
By Jennifer Conn, Akron reporter, cleveland.com
on December 29, 2016 at 2:12 PM, updated December 29, 2016 at 2:13 PM
AKRON, Ohio - An estimated 50 homeless men and women were notified by Summit Metro Parks they must move out of their camps by Jan. 7 to clear the way for construction of the park's Freedom Trail.
Phase 3 of the bike trail, which begins in Kent, will extend it from Eastwood Avenue to the University of Akron near Mill Street downtown, with much of it running along an unused railroad corridor.
Construction to begin in January
Metro Parks officials contacted the city of Akron earlier this year regarding the city's policies on managing homeless camps, said assistant city law director Chris Reece.
A federal lawsuit settled in September requires the city give 48 hours' notice before removing homeless people's tents and other belongings from public or private property. Any items taken also must be stored for 30 days so people can reclaim them.
"The city of Akron has no involvement with the Summit Metro Parks efforts regarding Phase III of the Freedom Trail," Reece said in a statement.
Rangers walk the line
Metro Parks rangers recently walked the tracks in North Akron, stopping at encampments to deliver a verbal notice. The rangers were accompanied by Bill Young, homeless outreach manager at the Peter Maurin Center, and his assistant Michael Coleman, a man who lived in those same camps two years ago.
Coleman said the park system is giving the homeless more notice than the city or Akron police would.
But Paul Hays, who has lived with several others along the tracks for more than a year, is concerned about finding a place to set up a new encampment as winter sets in.
Fast food restaurants don't welcome the homeless and lock public restrooms, he said, and the Akron-Summit County Public Library has banned many of the homeless.
"At this point, I don't know where we'll go," he said.
It is not unusual to begin a construction project in January, said Metro Parks spokesman Nathan Eppink in an email. The trail is being built on land owned by METRO RTA through a lease agreement. Park rules don't permit camps or temporary lodging on land owned or managed by Summit Metro Parks, except in designated campsites.
Railroads often help the homeless
Homeless camps are often established within railroad right-of-ways because the railroad is friendly toward those who seek a place to stay. In Akron, engineers often sound the trains' whistles as they move through the camps and in summer throw out bottled water, said Paul Herman, who has lived in the same camp as Hays since last summer.
Hays, who helps other homeless people, operates the Second Chance Store, a thrift store that also serves as a collection site for food and supplies for Akron's homeless.
Many of Akron's homeless don't want to stay at the Haven of Rest shelter because the rules are stringent and residents are not treated with respect, he said.
And with former homeless people working at the shelter looking after residents' personal items, such as wallets and jewelry, it's not safe, he said.
"They're all looking for a step up and they're going to get it anyway they can," he said.
Metro Parks will post a written notice on Jan. 4 saying that people have until 7 a.m. Jan. 7 to remove their personal property. The notice states personal items that remain will be held at the ranger station at 2360 Sand Run Parkway or other park locations.
To PMC Volunteers
The Peter Maurin Center now participates with CARS, an organization that takes in donated cars and sends the value to us.
To learn more about CARS you can read how it works by clicking this link: How does CARS work?
Dear PMC Volunteers,
The Italian Meatball Soup was a hit on a cold snowy day at the PMC and we served 110 meals with some soup leftover which may come in handy for Tuesdays meal or perhaps to warm up overnight guests this coming week as due to forecasted cold weather this Wednesday and Thursday the PMC is planning to open for overnight visitors.
We were blessed with many volunteers today as a St Mary's confirmation group of approx. 10 young men and their adult chaperones came down to visit the center. They were able to meet our visitors, assist in serving the meal, work dish detail, fill clothing requests to those in need at the community center and get an idea of what it might be like to be poor, homeless and living on the edge.
Many thanks to all of you for all you do and may you have a very Merry & Blessed Christmas Season
and a Happy New Year!
Donate your Car!