Homeless campers set to decline to move from fairgrounds

By Leader Staff
Posted 6/16/15

A half dozen campers who consider themselves homeless plan to refuse to move from the Jefferson County Fairgrounds on Thursday when their 10-day stay limit expires.

Barbara Morey, an advocate for …

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Homeless campers set to decline to move from fairgrounds

Posted

A half dozen campers who consider themselves homeless plan to refuse to move from the Jefferson County Fairgrounds on Thursday when their 10-day stay limit expires.

Barbara Morey, an advocate for the campers, delivered that information to the Jefferson Board of County Commissioners Monday, June 15 during public comment, adding, “The discrimination must end. You are ultimately responsible.”

Jefferson County owns the fairgrounds in Port Townsend, which are managed by the Jefferson County Fair Association through a memo of understanding dating to June 2000. The fair board has responsibility for operating the fairgrounds, maintaining the property, renting buildings and facilities and managing risks and hazards, according to that memo.

Morey told commissioners that after the Winter Shelter was closed in downtown PT, several people decided to band together for what they called Port Townsend Tent City. The group rented several sites at the fairgrounds' campground.

The group and was told the stay limit at the fairgrounds was 10 days. As a result the group has been alternating between staying there and camping at Fort Worden State Park, which is busier than the fairgrounds and more expensive.

While fairgrounds managers say there is a 10-day limit, Morey and others say some campers have been allowed to stay longer. Morey questions whether time limit enforcement is discriminatory.

“There has been arbitrary and capricious enforcement of the rules and harassment by the management,” Morey told commissioners, adding, “You are ultimately responsible as this is a county-owned public property under contract with you for management.”

Morey also told commissioners that some of the people who are now staying as part of the camp are disabled and a protected class under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Sue McIntire, treasurer of the fair board, and who runs the fairgrounds with her husband Bill McIntire, board president, did not respond Tuesday, June 16 to email questions about what action might be taken June 18 if the people associated with the tent city refuse to leave.

On Monday, there were about seven campsites filled at the fairgrounds. There are 80 campsites at the fairgrounds, according to the website.

Cost is $25 per night for full hookup and the fairgrounds advertise that, “We never fill up!”

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