Reserve Street Cleanup: Are Campers Moving Back In?
The ‘Reserve Street Public Working Group’ is helping to organize another cleanup effort under the Reserve Street Bridge on Thursday, September 8 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
We spoke with organizer Kevin Davis about the history of the ongoing cleanup effort.
“With our group of volunteers we've been at it for years in a row now,” began Davis. “We've been going down to the Reserve Street Bridge area and doing trash cleanups, helping out, and trying to keep the area safe for other Missoula citizens. This spring was our biggest cleanup yet where we were able to pull out what measured to be over 67 tons of trash that had accumulated in the area.”
Davis described the equipment and supplies that will be provided for Thursday's cleanup effort.
"We the volunteers have been asked to help again, this time with MDT crews that are going to have heavy machinery such as front loaders, skid steers, and dump trucks to help cart away what's accumulated again and what's also left over from the spring in areas where at the time the water was too high to access," he said.
Davis said he has anecdotal evidence that homeless people are repopulating the area near the Reserve Street Bridge, even though the area has been surrounded by chain link fences and is patrolled by security agencies.
“They're telling us that folks are moving back in on a weekly basis,” he said. “MDT crews are having to replace the broken locks and repair the gates with the clearly posted No Trespassing signs and as such, with more folks living back in that effectively illegal camping area, the trash is accumulating again.”
Davis provided details of where to go to volunteer for Thursday’s cleanup effort.
“We're meeting in the area of 728 North Davis Street for navigation purposes,” he said. “It's the street just southeast of the Reserve Street Bridge, and there’s plenty of parallel parking there. There will probably be a table set up with supplies including reflective vests and trash bags provided by MDT (Montana Department of Transportation), you'll sign a liability waiver form and then just walk north along the sidewalk to access the east side of the Reserve Street Bridge.
Davis said every effort will be made not to have any contact with persons who may have reportedly moved back into the Reserve Street camp.
The camp was closed in the spring and replaced with the Authorized Camp located at the end of Clark Fork Drive not far from the Super Walmart.
We have reached out to the Montana Department of Transportation (the owners of the property) and the Missoula County Commissioners about whether campers have in fact returned to the Reserve Street Bridge camp.
County Commissioner Josh Slotnick texted us with the following message on Wednesday afternoon, responding to a query about whether or not campers have returned to the now closed Reserve Street Bridge camp.
‘I can’t confirm that MDT (Montana Department of Transportation) now has official legal authority to kick people off and if they won’t go then the Sheriff will respond. MDT just needs to call (them). We are asking for enforcement to happen. Camping under the bridge is illegal. I will check on the accuracy of this rumor now.’
Slotnick confirmed with us that the MDT will be conducting a cleanup effort at the site on Thursday and if there are illegal campers at the site then appropriate action will be taken to remove them.