Cancer Patient Faces Eviction from Vermont Campground

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December 7, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

A homeless man says he and his wife, who is struggling with cancer, have nowhere to go after the seasonal campground they lived in shut down for the winter, WCAX-TV is reporting.

The state of Vermont considers Paul Eastman homeless. His camper is cramped, but he says the description doesn't fit. "By God, there's people that live under bridges for crying out loud, that are worse than we are," he said. "This is what I call home and if I lose it, I don't know."

He has spent most of this year living at the Onion River Campground with his wife, who is slowly losing her battle with bone cancer. But, because the property is only approved for seasonal use, they have to leave.

Problem is: they don't have the money to go anywhere else.

"Technically, we're supposed to be out of here," said Eastman."Bottom line is, we really don't have no place to go."

Tuesday night (Dec. 6), Eastman begged Marshfield's selectboard to make an exception. He says moving would affect his wife's health, force her to find a new job, and a new doctor. "Please let us stay," he said to the board as he broke down in tears.

"If you had come a month or two before, it would have made life a lot easier for everybody," said board member John Warshow. "We didn't create this crisis."

Board members say Eastman has their sympathy, and can have their help, but say they're in no position to bend the rules.

This isn't the first time the issue of winter camping at Onion River has been placed in front of the board. The town and the campground have been in legal battles since 2005.

If the property was zoned as a mobile home park, patrons could stay all year. Boardmembers say that's a state law.

The campground's owner, Dennis Fortin, told board members he didn't want to make those changes. If campers are found on the property, Fortin will be fined $100 a day until they've been removed.

Fortin declined to talk to the TV station for this story, but Eastman characterized him as one of the most generous people he knows. Eastman said he'll sleep in his broken-down truck rather than risk getting his friend fined.

Eastman said he's stayed over the winter at the campground in the past. Board members said the area came under more scrutiny after several issues with drug and alcohol use on the premises.

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