Park City police consider future of homeless camp near Prospector neighborhood

Posted at 7:25 PM, May 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-03 21:25:35-04

PARK CITY, Utah --- Should they stay or should they go? That's the question Park City Police are trying to answer regarding a homeless camp that has popped up on the mountainside in the Prospector neighborhood, right above the Union Pacific Rail Trail.

For the past two years, a man named Randy has lived in a tent in the camp. However, he doesn't think of himself as homeless. He said he has a job.

"Regardless of how much money I were making I think I would be living here," Randy said. "It's really not a homeless situation, a situation of desperation, it's feeling some kind of connection to this spot."

Randy said he's just like everyone else. He gets home from work, has a few beers, and goes to sleep.

"It's pretty simple, I got a bed--an air mattress that needs to be blown up," Randy said.

Then last summer Randy and a few friends were actually kicked out of the campsite by police. Officers had a number of concerns, from forest fires, to drug use, to crime.

"The health hazards, and the fire hazards, and the littering and the human waste that we found up there," said Sgt. Vaifoa Lealaitafea. "We've had vehicle break-ins in the immediate area, so that could be linked to it. We are still investigating those."

However Randy has now returned and he's not alone.

"I try to help a few other people out who need a place to stay," Randy said.

Randy said at any time there could be up to four or five people living there, and that's what worries people living down below in the Prospector neighborhood.

"We have 14-year-old boys who are hiking through those trails, I run up there by myself," said resident Jenn Oxenham. "And so it is concerning because we just don't know who is up there."

Police said there is no law prohibiting people from camping on the land, which is owned by Park City. However, if they overstay their welcome, then police can take action.

"If we warn them, give them ample time to remove their things, and they refuse to do it then they can be charged with trespassing," Lealaitafea said.

The Park City Police Department is currently deciding whether or not to remove Randy for a second time, or anybody else who decides to set up camp for an extended period.