By BERNARD SCHOENBURG
Published Wednesday, May 30, 2007
The city of Springfield could announce within days a plan for where the Lincoln Library homeless people can keep their possessions, Mayor Tim Davlin said Tuesday.
“Things have been in the works, and we’re hoping that maybe by the end of this week, we’re going to have a solution to some of the clothing and the boxes and things that are outside the library,” Davlin told reporters, who were at the library for a news conference on a different subject.
“We’re hoping to have some resolution, if not by this Friday, probably by Monday of next week.”
Davlin said the plan is basically “just installing lockers inside a pod.”
“We’re working out some of the logistics about exactly where it’s going to be put and … more about liability issues,” the mayor said.
He said he doesn’t anticipate any changes to security around the library, even if the number of homeless people staying there goes down.
A varying group amounting to dozen or so homeless people frequent the library, sleeping under its overhang at night and leaving their bedrolls and other possessions on planters along the building’s north side during the day.
“Security is the same … today as it will be a week from now,” Davlin said. “If in fact there aren’t as many people hanging around here, we’re not going to do anything less about security. … We’ll wait and see what happens with the groups of individuals that still decide just to hang around here.”
Attention was focused anew on the issue of homeless people living around the library last week, after Ward 2 Ald. Gail Simpson was attacked outside the nearby municipal complex. Simpson wasn’t hurt. Her alleged attacker, 23-year-old Christopher Williams, was arrested, and a judge last week ordered a psychiatric evaluation.
Davlin said Tuesday he did not think the attack on Simpson was related to the problem of homeless people at the library.
“I think it was really more of an issue with one individual,” he said.
Agencies have been interviewing people staying at the library and seeking to match them up with services, the mayor added.
“Quite a few … have been removed,” he said. “I don’t know the exact numbers, but I know of probably at least a dozen individuals who have sought help, have received the help and are no longer here (at the library). And they were here just a couple of months ago.”
As for creating an alternative place for the homeless to stay, Davlin said, “We’re hoping to at least make some kind of a temporary announcement, maybe by the middle or end of this week also.”
Simpson said she has “met extensively” since the attack with the mayor’s executive assistant, Jim Donelan, and Sandy Robinson, the city’s community relations director, to be brought up to date on city actions involving the homeless.
Something should have been done sooner, Simpson said, but she is satisfied that progress finally is being made.
She also said she thinks there was a link between her attacker and the library homeless.
“It’s my understanding that he has, on a number of occasions, been down there and created some problems with those individuals who are down there,” Simpson said.
If the other homeless people had not been at the library already, those encounters would not have occurred, she said.
Bernard Schoenburg can be reached at 788-1540 or firstname.lastname@example.org.