The Monroe County Commission approved a new law August 23 aimed at keeping homeless people from sleeping on the Courthouse lawn. The law formally establishes hours of operation for the Courthouse grounds.
“This summer, people have taken to camping on the courthouse grounds and that’s resulted in trash and bodily waste to the degree that the public health of the safety crew and people visiting is in peril” says County Attorney David Schilling.
People experiencing homelessness have been sleeping on the courthouse lawn for months. There is no Interfaith Summer Shelter this year, and the city of Bloomington has shut down informal shelters on 11th street and in a city parking garage. Commission member Iris Kiesling asked how this new law would be enforced. Schilling said they’d put up signs saying the hours of the lawn and violation of the hours would be grounds for a trespass violation. The official hours of operation for the courthouse lawn are now 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. each day. Kiesling said the County has taken measures to make it “less fun” to sleep on the lawn, but she didn’t say what those measures were.
“Businesses around the courthouse can see what’s going on and are concerned. It’s a shame because we have such a beautiful courthouse and I’d hate to see that getting destroyed,” Kiesling said.
All three members of the Commission voted to approve the ordinance. The wording of the law will have to be published in the Herald-Times before police are allowed to impose fines for violating it.