'Tent City' tenant gone from riverside spot
TIMES-REPORTER JIM CUMMINGS The area along the Tuscarawas River and near the Big Lots store in New Philadelphia is where some of the homeless had stayed previous to Monday afternoon, before being issued with trespass forms over the weekend.
The unauthorized occupant or occupants of an area off Bluebell Drive NW known as “tent city” have left.
Police Chief Mike Goodwin said Monday he was informed that the one person who resided there has gone to a new location near Parral. There were no other occupants, temporary or permanent, the chief added.
Goodwin said he doesn’t know how the area became known as “tent city,” as “one guy in a tent doesn’t constitute a city, I guess, in my mind.”
Goodwin said the tent area was one person’s compound that steadily grew, until Law Director Marvin Fete issued the order Friday for police to forcibly remove illegal trespassers from private property.
Police on Friday gave trespass forms to three people found on the property, giving them three days to vacate the premises.
It was noted on a police report that four vehicles and a trailer also were on the property. Two of the vehicles and the trailer were registered to one man, who Goodwin said had occupied the
Goodwin said there were other people who visited the compound from time to time, so it might have appeared that more people resided there, “but he was the only one living there, and basically he was trespassing — he never had a reason or permission to be there.”
Goodwin noted the vehicles also were gone Monday, but said there still are other materials left behind. The remaining property, he added, will be cleaned up by a group from the NewPointe Community Church, which had been assisting the man.
The group is to provide a Dumpster, and do a cleanup of the area the first week of August.
Fete’s order came after numerous complaints to local law enforcement from Lou Ann Counihan, a managing partner of R.L. Wittbold — New Philadelphia LLC, which owns the shopping center at 332-400 Bluebell Drive NW.
“The police asked for my input and I gave it,” Fete said in a statement issued Monday. “I gave the order to forcibly remove illegal trespassers from private property.”
The law director said he does not consider the order as an eviction.
“Eviction is a legal term that implies one has a right to occupy and live in a particular place based upon legally enforceable agreement,” he said. “There was no agreement here. This is a simple trespass, which is illegal.
“In my opinion, the situation is no different than if someone tried to pitch a tent in front of your home and live there. No one would tolerate that, and the law does not permit it.