Crowd Attends Council Meeting to Hear Debate on Lincoln Center
ST. CLOUD (WJON News) -- The homeless population and the Lincoln Center in southeast St. Cloud was once again the topic of a very lengthy conversation at a St. Cloud City Council meeting.
Monday night Councilwoman Karen Larson delivered a prepared speech outlining a number of her concerns.
A temporary hybrid tent shelter was moved to the Lincoln Center parking lot on August 18th after they had originally set up camp near Veterans Bridge.
Larson says she doesn't feel the administration acted in accordance with the city's charter in granting the temporary allowance.
I said twice in my speech that I don't object to the fact of what the city did in August. I object to the process by which they did it. They were in a position where that is what they needed to do.
She says the city has too much of a dependence on the under-resourced facility, and if the city administration tries to extend the special allowance past November 1st she will challenge it.
Larson also questions whether the Lincoln Center can come into full compliance by the November 1st deadline to move the people from their tents outside into the building.
I really think that we're at a point where we need to be as a city in a position, even in an emergency situation, where we have at least one other option, besides this one.
Councilman George Hontos asked Mayor Dave Kleis to address the homeless tent shelter immediately.
Kleis responded there are actually very limited options for the city legally. He says while the tent shelter is not ideal they are working to find alternative solutions. But, he says having the encampment by the bridge or in a park would be worse.
After the regular council meeting adjourned, there is a regular time for an open forum that allows up to five residents to speak for up to three minutes each. Four of the five speakers spoke about how the return of homeless people to the Lincoln Center has also brought a return of issues for businesses and homeowners in the neighborhood.
The Lincoln Center has been closed as a shelter since May, until it can get up to code and in compliance with the CUP. However, the temporary allowance in place since August allows people to set up a tent outside in their parking lot and only go inside briefly to use the bathrooms.
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