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December 3, 2012

Alcohol ban could be expanded to 3 parks

TRAVERSE CITY — City commissioners will consider expanding a ban on alcohol in three more downtown, riverfront park areas to address complaints from neighbors about homeless people.

Targeted parks include Lay and Hannah parks on Union Street just south of the Boardman River and American Legion Park off Cass Street across from United Methodist Church.

Residents on Sixth and Seventh streets recently voiced concerns to city Commissioner Jim Carruthers about homeless people who drink and camp overnight at Hannah Park.

“Hannah Park has become a desirable place for some of our more colorful people to hang out,” Carruthers said. “This is just an effort to please the neighbors and the neighborhoods who have a concern.”

City police recommended the inclusion of Lay and American Legion parks because of their proximity to United Methodist Church, which Captain Steve Morgan described as “the center of activity for the homeless population obtaining needed assistance.”

Morgan wrote in a memo to City Manager Ben Bifoss that police have a significant presence in Hannah Park, but drinking beer and wine or sleeping in the park is not illegal.

“The camping ordinance ... does not prohibit sleeping in a park, only camping, which I would think must include more elements than a person in a sleeping bag,” Morgan wrote in answer to residents’ concerns.

City commissioners will take up the park issue when it meets today at 7 p.m. in the Governmental Center.

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