A Frederick City alderman said she will vote to ban camping in Frederick tonight to prevent protestors from setting up camps in city parks during this month’s G-8 Summit in Thurmont.
Karen Young (D) is among a majority of aldermen who supports the ban, which is scheduled for a vote this evening.
An Occupy Frederick protest in January, in which about 15 people set up tents along Carroll Creek Linear Park for one week, sparked initial concern about camping in the city.
Young, however, said she was hesitant to support a ban based on a single problem. She also was concerned groups, including the Boy Scouts, would be prevented from camping in the city.
The legislation originally would have required campers to apply for permits. After discussion with the board and staff from the Frederick Department of Parks and Recreation, the proposal changed to an outright ban on camping, as the city doesn’t have the proper facilities, such as public bathrooms.
“The last time we discussed this it was made very clear by staff that we don’t have the facilities to support camping,” Young wrote in an email. “... If the facilities are insufficient, or non-existent, it is simply not responsible to permit the activity.”
Alderman Michael O’Connor (D) wrote in an email that although the Occupy encampment was the basis of the ordinance, there were no conflicts with police like those that have made headlines following Occupy protests nationwide.
However, O’Connor said the encampment raised potential safety concerns if camping was to take place more often.
“The larger logistical concerns of which parks, how many people, how often, with what assurances for safety and sanitation and the regulations necessary to address them just seem to outweigh the need to accommodate the very infrequent requests the city has received for permission to having camping events,” he wrote.
O’Connor said he is waiting to hear comments from residents at tonight’s meeting before committing to a vote.
There currently are no restrictions beyond the park hours, 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., except for the city’s 24-hour parks, such as Carroll Creek Linear Park, Harry Grove Stadium, Loats Park and McCurdy Memorial Park.
In addition to Young, Aldermen Shelley Aloi (R) and Kelly Russell (D) said they would support a ban on camping in the city. Alderman Carol Krimm (D) did not say whether she would vote for the ban.