Statement from Kalamazoo City Manager Jim Ritsema Regarding the Encampment in Bronson Park

Under City of Kalamazoo ordinances, camping in any park is prohibited without the written permission of the City. Fires in a grill or otherwise, are prohibited in Bronson Park. And persons violating city park rules may be required to leave the park for the balance of the day. Persons refusing to leave are subject to arrest for trespassing.

The City of Kalamazoo has not granted specific permission for the encampment that presently occupies Bronson Park. The City, through the office of the City Manager, has repeatedly met with representatives of the encampment and although much work remains to be done, the City has endeavored to address the concerns which the homeless population has laid before the City Commission. The City remains committed to an ongoing process to convene the community to seek solutions to these larger problems.

However, the growing encampment in Bronson Park is not a solution to the issues surrounding homelessness. It is a violation of City ordinances and must end. Beginning tomorrow, Tuesday, September 18, individuals at the encampment will be advised to gather their belongings and remove themselves by 7:00 PM. Persons who continue to maintain tents or other indications of camping will be subject to possible arrest and prosecution. Further, persons with warrants will be subject to arrest. Bronson Park is not intended to be, nor is it equipped to be, a camp ground. The limited source of potable water and the absence of sanitary and safe food preparation facilities raise legitimate public health and welfare concerns, requiring the City to
request voluntary compliance with its ordinances.

In taking this action the City remains committed to making Bronson Park welcoming to citizens and visitors alike – whether to find a quiet space in the middle of a busy city, spreading a blanket to enjoy a picnic or to gather peacefully to protest. Bronson Park is the front yard of the City and is available to all, and should not be possessed by any single group.

City of Kalamazoo

Home to the Kalamazoo Promise, three institutions of higher education, two nationally recognized healthcare systems, cutting-edge medical research, world-class brewing and dining, outstanding parks, and an extensive variety of music, art, theatre, and cultural attractions.

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