News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

May 20, 2014

Homeless council decries new Vigo parks camping rules

Parks Board says some people monopolize best sites, wants them open to all that want to visit parks

TERRE HAUTE — A council of agencies that serve the homeless is questioning a Vigo County park policy that limits time for camping.

Muriel Ryan, co-founder of Families By Choice, Tuesday told members of the Wabash Valley Planning Council on Homeless for Region 7 she thinks a new county park policy that requires individuals to leave a campsite after 14 days should be repealed. The policy states those campers must leave a park campground for no less than 7 days.

“The county is making a change because they have become aware of who is there and I think that is discriminatory,” of homeless individuals, Ryan said after the meeting.

Previously, county campsites could be rented for up to 30 days. The new 14-day limit matches that of current polices in Indiana public parks. After 14 days, “all individuals occupying the campsite must vacate the campground for no less than 7 days,” the new Vigo park policy states, which also matches state park policies.

Another change involves the U.S. Postal Service. The new county policy, passed last month, states that “no camper shall use a Vigo County park address as a legal mailing address. Any personal mail received at a park address will be immediately returned to the sender.”

Ryan, a member of the Council on Homeless, said people staying in campgrounds “is a safety net. These people are proud that they can pay for their lots. Hawthorn Park has a reputation as being a place that you can go,” she said, adding some people last year stayed from almost the first day to nearly the end of the camping season.

Dottye Crippen, program director for Bethany House for Catholic Charities, said “we have taken in several families over the last few years waiting to get into Bethany House from Hawthorn Park. We have helped quite a few families” who had stayed in the county parks.

“These people pay the same fees that everybody else gets charged,” Ryan said. “The 33 people I met [last year] had a greater sense of pride, greater sense of independence and had a plan to get out of being homeless.”

Jeff Lorick, president of the council, said he wanted the council to first invite a member of the Park Board to discuss “the ideal and the thought behind creating such a policy. If we cannot get one of the board members to come to share that information, then we sign off on a letter as agencies and present it at board meeting. I don’t believe in starting a fire before you light the match. I believe in giving them an opportunity to come and share their thoughts and concerns that maybe we are not aware.”

Lorick said Tuesday after the meeting that he had contacted Peggy Harlan, president of the Vigo County Parks Board, who agree to talk to the council at a June 3 meeting.

Contacted Tuesday, Harlan said the board did not target the homeless when it voted on the new park policy last month.

“They are county parks, they can’t be a place for people to have as their address or home,” Harlan said. “The parks need to be available to everybody. If people stay, like they used to before with the 30 days, it does limit the number of people who get to use any park,” Harlan said.

“We have had some people who are very thankful for doing this as they have not been able to get the best places at the park because someone else has them for 30 days, then [campers] change among themselves. It is not targeting the homeless people at all, but makes the parks more available to more people. That is what we want, more people to come to our parks and enjoy them,” Harlan said.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or


Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local & Bistate
Latest News Poll
AP Video
Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Raw: Earthquake Rocks Mexico's Gulf Coast US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City Fox Dons 'Bondage Strap' Skirt at Comic-Con
NDN Video
Heartwarming 'Batkid Begins' Documentary is Tear-Jerker Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up Broken Water Main Floods UCLA "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza Meet the Man Behind Dumb Starbucks Chris Pratt Adorably Surprises Kids at a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Screening NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010