News and Tribune

February 7, 2013

Homeless camp sweeps to resume

An updated policy must be approved first


JEFFERSONVILLE — The city of Jeffersonville plans to soon resume sweeps of homeless camps.

The city halted such sweeps after one conducted in late November near the exit 0 overpass on Interstate 65 was completed without the individuals living in the camp being notified and where personal property was confiscated.

The city then put a temporary stop to any additional sweeps until its policy had been revisited.

In the interim, the Jeffersonville-Clarksville Homelessness Task Force held a public forum in January to begin working to address the needs of homeless individuals living in Southern Indiana. And at the Board of Public Works meeting Wednesday, Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore said the city’s street department needs to begin conducting the sweeps again.

“I know there’s a proper procedure we’re going to be doing,” he said.

City Attorney Les Merkley said before any new sweeps meant to clean up areas are conducted, a written policy regarding that procedure will need to come before the board of public works for adoption.

Merkley said the city needs to be able to give notice to the homeless living in the camps and it needs to determine how much notice will be given. In addition, the city will need to post signs, determine a policy of what to do with personal property if it is collected, where it will be stored and for how long. 

Paul Stensrud, founder of Jesus Cares at Exit 0 — a volunteer organization that helps the homeless — offered that he would like to see similar requirements in place before the city resumes its sweeps. In addition to the policy requirements that Merkley mentioned, Stensrud offered another possibility for the city in conducting its sweeps.

“We’ll go in and do the cleanup,” he said of Exit 0. ‘We would just like to go ahead and do it for them.” 

While Stensrud admitted the sweeps may not always be possible within 48 hours if his organization was conducting them, he said that volunteers will be able to help clean up the sites and they “can most definitely make it work.”

“We agree that the sweeps need to be done. We just ask that they be done jointly,” he said. “Communication is starting to become key, and it is happening, which is a huge step for us.”

Until a policy is finalized, however, Jeffersonville will not be conducting any sweeps of the camps.

“Don’t do anything until we get a policy,” Merkley said.


Transfer of property

Merkley also introduced a resolution at the board of public works meeting that was unanimously approved to convey 47 parcels of property from the city to the Jeffersonville Redevelopment Commission.

“This is in reference to the property that the city acquired for what was previously the canal, which is now the stormwater conveyance system or the interceptor sewer project,” he said.

Merkley explained that while the city’s redevelopment commission paid for all the properties, the deeds were placed in the city’s name. The conveyance will put the deeds in the redevelopment commission’s name. However, the redevelopment commission would also have to adopt an identical resolution to accept the properties.

In addition, there are a number of parcels that the city will still need to purchase.

“There are still seven parcels out there that the city has not acquired,” Merkley said.

Easements also will need to be determined for the properties being transferred in order to install the conveyance system. The determination of the easements will be made by engineering firm Jacobi, Toombs and Lanz Inc.


Road closure coming

Wastewater Superintendent Len Ashack said there will be an upcoming closure at Strawberry Lane and Eighth Street in Jeffersonville for a sewer-replacement project. The closure is set to begin Tuesday, Feb. 12. The closures will be daily from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. until Feb. 14. 

A detour will be in place at Larkspur Drive and Foxglove Drive from Eighth Street.