Campground or Permanent Residence?
Some residents of Creve Coeur, Ill., say a campground in their neighborhood is looking more and more like a trailer park or homeless shelter and they want something done about it.
But campground owners say everything is as it should be.
Bert Cusac thinks visitors at the Fort Creve Coeur campground are wearing out their welcome, according to WHOI-TV, Peoria.
“I don’t think there should be permanent residents if it’s not supposed to be that way, it’s just supposed to be travelers maybe a couple weeks at a time, or visitors to the area, someone to see the sights,” said Cusac.
Neighbors complain that the site is becoming a haven for the destitute. Others add it’s a safety issue, creating the potential for opportunistic crime.
Police Chief Mike Button agrees. He says it’s already happened with visitors being responsible for scams against the elderly, even some drug use.
But board members of the privately run site say unless visitors are breaking park or village rules they don’t get kicked out.
“We’ve had communication with the village before on the length of stay in here. It’s not the first time it’s come up,” said board president Ross Bohanon. “The state has no guidelines, the county has no guidelines as to how long they can stay here.”
The park only restricts those in tents to a week-long stay, but it’s not always enforced.
“If they’re here for seven days, we’ll sometimes say, ‘Move your site from one side to the other side or down a ways or something,’ mostly to protect the grass underneath,” said Bohanon.
Now, the issue is going beyond the neighbors.
Chief Button has asked the village to look into it and an attorney will be reviewing the agreement between village hall and the park board, who leases the site from the village.
Village leaders are expected to meet about this issue next week.
The site is open from April 1 to Nov. 1.
The campground is run by a not-for-profit organization that oversees a 89-acre park that encircles the campground. The park borders the Illinois River.