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County Calls DEP Over Area ‘Heavily Contaminated With Human Waste’ Around Library in Cleanup of Homeless Camp

| March 15, 2019

library homeless camp

Around the library. (© FlaglerLive)

Full-time armed security began at the Flagler County Public Library in Palm Coast on Tuesday as the county stepped up its work, cleaning up the homeless camp at the west end of the library property, and a new video security and access-control system is on the way for the library. There’s been only minor issues with homeless individuals during the clean-up’s first week, but more serious hygiene issues were uncovered.

“We’ve cleaned up I think 80-something cubic yards of trash,” Interim County Administrator Jerry Cameron said today, “then we had a little over 1,100 square-foot of area that was heavily contaminated with human waste. We had to call DEP and get some guidance on that, and got a special container just for that.” DEP is the state Department of Environmental Protection. “They’re cleaning that up this morning. That’s a real concern because that’s exactly the sort of thing that would wipe our armies with dysentery and cholera.”

Some three dozen or more homeless people were living in an encampment sprawled around a canal a few hundred yards from the library. Their presence was generating complaints from neighbors in the south end of Palm Coast’s B-Section, whose homes line the same canal. It was generating safety concerns from library staff and the library director. And it had provoked the most serious series of discussions about seeking solutions among county, city and law enforcement officials in memory. Previous discussions date back six and seven years, and had focused on Bunnell, where the homeless had tended to congregate because of a church’s welcoming ministry at the time. Bunnell has more recently taken a harsh line against panhandling and the homeless, passing the county’s strictest anti-panhandling ordinance.

Long-term solutions remain elusive. Short-term solutions include what amounts to the restoration of full-time security at the library, a presence the library used to depend on before the Great Recession, but that had to be eliminated because of budget cuts. It’s not clear how the county will finance the added security. On Monday, the County Commission is expected to discuss and likely approve the addition of a $35,000 security system at the library.

“The proposed system includes single door access control on the staff entrance exterior door,” a memo to commissioners about the new system reads, “standalone network video recorder with 24 cameras installed throughout the interior and exterior of the building, and licenses for connectivity to the centralized network video controller and access control systems. The system can be remotely monitored and controlled as needed.

The system will be paid for with the library’s own revenue from its passport fund, which generated over $100,000 in the past year and will stand at $214,000 after the expense for security.

There’s been only a handful of interactions between deputies and the homeless around the library this week. Tara Sanfilippo is a 27-year-old woman who lives at the camp behind the library. Deputies located a warrant out of Fairfax County, Va., for her arrest , for attempted identity fraud. She was found, arrested and booked Tuesday at the county jail, where she remains on no bond. The same day, according to a sheriff’s report, “Several homeless subjects had not moved from the area as instructed to do so yesterday. Commander Williams spoke to the few individuals and [they] agreed to leave the area until the county finishes their work.”

A sheriff’s report also sheds more light on what had been an alarming county release earlier this week about a 40-year-old homeless woman who had allegedly threatened a custodian. Holly Albanese, the library director, said a scrawl of the words “I will kill you,” found in a library bathroom stall, cannot be attributed to her, but likely was the 40-year-old woman’s doing. The release also made reference to a machete that was seen by library staff by the feet of the woman and her partner. Albanese said the homeless use machetes to cut through underbrush around their encampments.

The sheriff’s report paints a less threatening picture of what took place: Jennifer Brannigan and Christine Brannigan, custodians at the library, “They stated that on March 9, 2019 at approximately 8:12 AM, they were in the Doug Cisney Room, which is located in the rear of the library,” the report states. The custodians “stated that they were looking out the window and observed two males and a female standing outside of the Library and they appeared to be having a conversation. The male, whose identity is unknown at this time, who was wearing a grey long sleeved shirt, black pants, and a black hat, was observed taking a machete out of a black backpack and showing it to the other male, then set the machete on the ground between his legs.”

Cameron said the homeless at the encampment “have been as a whole cooperative and even help with some of the cleanup. They ran into a couple of people that were resistant, but they explained to them this absolutely had to be done, some of them grudgingly moved but the vast majority of them were cooperative.”

The clean-up is not an eviction: absent a better solution for the homeless, the county is not requiring the individuals to leave the property, though it will attempt to ensure more sanitary conditions in the future.

On Thursday, the county issued yet another release in what has become a series of releases on the homeless issue, some of them odder than others–as was the case Thursday, but only seemingly so. The release stressed the extent of homeless assistance efforts the county has been involved in over the years and at the moment, quoting Janet Nickels, the county’s point person on homeless issues. “We work with a wide variety of agencies that address various homeless issues such as housing, addiction, and family transitional housing,” Nickels was quoted as saying.“It is this team approach that is the most effective.” The release noted that the county had placed six people in housing in the past two months.

While much of the release summarized what Nickels had spoken of to the Public Safety Coordinating Council on Wednesday, and what has already been extensively reported, it read as an unusual counterpoint to County Commissioner Joe Mullins’s insistence that the county must do something about the homeless issue, and do more than it’s been doing. (A county official noted that the release had been in the works since February, and that much of its substance has been part of a campaign by the county to explain its role in homeless initiatives since then.)

Mullins wants immediate action. The release was written with emphasis on how slow and difficult progress on homeless issues can be, down to individual cases: “Over the years, the most successful way for us to operate has been one person at a time,” Nickels is quoted as saying, essentially contradicting the Mullins approach. “As slow as that is, not everyone is ready (to change) just because we want them to be.”

Mullins is pushing the county to develop new ordinances giving law enforcement and code enforcement stronger tools to deal with the homeless, while also looking for a permanent alternative to such things as the camp around the library. But Mullins has ruled out a permanent shelter. Cameron called Mullins’s approach “passionate.” But he said the county’s approach must take various issues in consideration.

“Legislation on homeless issue is very difficult, it’s difficult to draft it so it stands constitutional scrutiny,” Cameron said, “but once you’ve drafted it, it’s highly dependent on how you enforce it as to whether you have it effective or not.”

Mullins, Cameron said, is “freshly out of the private sector. You can do things faster there. His proposals will be reviewed by legal here,” and if his proposals are sound, the county will move forward with them, assuming the rest of the commission is supportive. “But again it’s very difficult to have a meaningful impact on this unless you have alternatives.” Those alternatives will be dependent on broad partnerships, Cameron said–the kind of partnerships his administration’s release was listing. Short of that, the county can make only “slight improvements, not broad improvements,” Cameron said. But Mullins “is coming up with ideas and we’re certainly going to explore them.”

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42 Responses for “County Calls DEP Over Area ‘Heavily Contaminated With Human Waste’ Around Library in Cleanup of Homeless Camp”

  1. tulip says:

    Holy cow, all that human waste lying in the open air!!!! I would think that because of the health hazard that those people could be made to leave. It bothers me that the county and city hasn’t realized that disease is spread by that sort of thing and, if they have thought of it, done nothing. The story said there was 1100 sq feet of the stuff. That’s the size of a small house!!

  2. The original woody says:

    Make them clean it up.They have nothing to do all day.Must smell good just in time for the long hot summer.

  3. atilla says:

    We have to clean up after these hobos and bums so they will have a clean place to shit. What is the problem about forcing them out of the city and county? They’re not from here and are trespassing. Ge them the hell out of the county.

  4. Steve says:

    Move them out permanently. Put them somewhere that will make them leave

  5. William says:

    I think should adopt strict panhandling, loitering, & vagrancy ordanences. By loitering, I mean congregating at traffic lights causing a disturbance and distraction to drivers. By vagrancy, I mean if you do not have $50 cash in your pocket at all times, and have no valid ID you get charged with vagrancy! Panhandling, hanging out in front of public places like supermarkets, corner gas stations, asking patrons for money, will not be permitted and will result in arrest! Second time offenders will be banned from stores, gas stations, all public places! Make the rules very strict, and the enforcement even stricter!
    Make the environment so restrictive, that eventually they leave! Further, they will be responsible for their own cleanup and area hygiene! If the fail they get evicted! Any relaxation in this policy will only encourage the homeless population to swell to a degrees where we could have 1,000’s in our city!

  6. Mary Fusco says:

    Give each one of them a large shovel and let them clean up their own shit. The bleeding hearts need to get each campsite a commode and a year supply of bags plus pay for trash bins and Waste Pro to pick up their disgusting crap. Citizens are threatened with fines if their dog craps on a vacant lot but these pigs are given a free pass. Ridiculous. Being homeless is certainly not a crime. However, defacing and defecating on public property is.

  7. Concerned Citizen says:

    Everyone is being so condesending to these people and they are breaking the law.

    If you or I left a mess like that in our yards we would be hounded by Code enforcement. If you or I pooped and peed in public we would be arrested. If you or I trespassed and threatned someone we would be in jail. If you or I used illegal narcotics in public we would be arrested. And with a mug shot on the front page of Flagler Live.

    Whether you are homeless or not the law applies to everyone. I keep hearing the homeless have these rights and so forth Well does that include the right to disregard the law and to disrespect property? And now we are stuck cleaning up their mess.

    When this story originally broke I tried to feel sorry for these people. I have done my part to help the homeless and have taken flak for not agreeing they should be allowed to do whatever they want. Well from what I’m seeing this is mostly disrespect and a lot of entitlement. And all at our expense.

    Get these folks off of county land and clean it up. Start patrolling the area and enforce the laws. Open a shelter and find part time work for these folks. If they can panhandle they can work. The county has money to throw around.

    Instead of opening bum Operations Centers and other precints build a shelter. Instead of opening another tax office and letting private busniess bribe you to stay at a park open a shelter. Do the right thing instead of wasting OUR money on useless projects like armed security.

    Folks we need change in this county. We have a BOCC who wrings their hands and can’t make decisions. We have an over paid interim manager who is out of touch and doesn’t know our county. We have a Sheriff who is too interested in playing Wyatt Earp and being a media hound. We will have elections again one day and need to remember all of this. Change starts with us.

  8. Tom says:

    Give Administrator Cameron some Xtra Gas Money,
    and have him take 2 with him every Night to his Beautiful
    St. Augustine. They have ~ 2000 homeless in their City.

  9. Flatsflyer says:

    20 people generating 80 cubic yards of human waste is a good example of the way Trump simply makes up lies to fit his agenda. a dump truck or cement mixer carries 10 cubic yards, did these people just made the worlds record book?

  10. Being Humane says:

    Pulling up to a traffic light and seeing that person with the cardboard sign and pretending that your on your phone so you don’t have to roll your window down to give them some hand change or walking in to the Circle K and having to walk past that filthy dirty smell old man and pretend he’s not even there as you walk in is a very common occurrence…’s sad…..there people at there lowest, beloved veterans, alcoholics, drug dependent, post traumatic stress disorder, bipolar, maniac depression or have just given up on society…..there still humans and hopefully all Americans and for what ever reason chose our county to pitch a tent… ugly and disgusting all this is…..the county and city have known about this for some time and when it came to a boiling point they blew it, this issue needs to be dealt with by educated compassionate people and with a long term end solution……you just can’t round up a bunch of unsightly people and ship them out…..CONSTITUTION dummys

  11. Fredrick says:

    The love and compassion in these posts is so heartwarming.

  12. Florence says:

    How about a couple of port a pottys?

  13. CW says:

    Move them out. This is a health hazard. They need temp shelter. Then move on. They need rehab but after that they need to go. There is help but some of them will NEVER improve their situation. God helps those that help themselves. That being said, it is up to the City and County to make sure the rest of the community is protected. There is drug usage and crime and now we learn about raw human feces. Really? What is it going to take to get this situation under control? There has been a blind eye from the powers that be. This is not going away. They will clean it up and then let them stay with no remedy. Look at what other successes have been accomplished in other cities. I have given to them in the past and have a heart. Jesus said what you do for the least of my brethren you do for me. Take the hand up not the handout.

  14. hawkeye says:

    what a bunch of disgusting pigs, animals dont even shit where they eat and sleep, and no, I do not want them near me and I dont give them money. They should be forced to clean up this shit themselves and banished from that property. If they want to live in the woods somewhere put them out where no humans are.Oh wait a minute, then they wont be able to stand on the corner and mooch, while they are playing on their cell phones.

  15. Agkistrodon says:

    They are just “regular” people……..Well there goes that LIE. Looks as though they live like ANIMALS.

  16. Bill says:

    Get help for those who truly want help rejoining society. Get help for those who need mental and or drug/alcohol help that will take the help. For those who wont take true help DONT help them live like this by cleaning up THEIR mess and giving them free access to public land to trash along with the panhandling all over the place.

  17. Local says:

    Love how the 27 year old girl was arrested for “attempted identity fraud” with NO bail but rapist anddrunk drivers get out for 500$. What is wrong with flagler county?

  18. Dave says:

    Some of you seem to think it’s real easy to just evict the homeless. Try renting out a house and evicting one of the tenants. If they decide not to leave or have kids it can take up to a year . Everyone has rights and the law has to protect them just as it does us.unless they are breaking the law nothing can be done. The county is doing everything it can to help everyone.

  19. Derrick Redder says:

    Assine and feckless way to address the issue.

  20. Richard says:

    I love it when city officials expect a different outcome BUT keep doing the same thing by enabling this kind of behavior. Get them the hell out of this area by punishing the people who keep handing out the free money to by drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, etc. You really believe that they buy FOOD with that money. Once they realize that they cannot sustain their life here they will move on to some other area that will enable them to survive but leave am infectious, garbage strewn area behind. If you want to do something for them, get them a job where they can support themselves. I see prisoners working along side the roadways what about using the homeless to do those tasks and pay them. However, I would be the deed to my house that 99.99% would turn down the offer as they have no desire to work regardless of what their signs state.

  21. Concerned Citizen says:

    @ Frederick

    Empathy and Sympathy only go so far. Especially when it’s someone else having to clean up the mess. Let’s try a comparison test. You and I will go out in our front yard and poop for a month. Let’s see just how long we get away with it before A. Someone calls the cops on us and B. Code enforcement hits us with a citation. And keep in mind this is on our own property!!

    And it’s not just the woods these people use the bathroom in. I have had to clean 3 commercial properties in the last 90 days after these folks deficated and urinated under their awnings. All occasions were after they were asked to leave because they were charging their devices on outside outlets and using wifi in the area (trespassing).

    These busniesses have also had to put out money to secure outlets and put up cameras and trespass signage. Both cost money. Not all busniesses have extra money laying around so how is it fair to them? It seems to me that the homeless have more rights than you or I.

    @ Local

    Having worked in Law Enforcement myself it’s almost always SOP for No Bond on an out of state warrant. Flagler County is legally obligated to honor the warrant if it’s valid. Then it’s up to the issuing state to extradite.

    Flagler will hold her for so long then if she has no new charges here they will release her. And yes your right I have long argued that our bond schedule makes no sense.

  22. Mark says:

    I think there is some unused land by the GSB/Court House.

  23. Fredrick says:

    @ concerned citizen….. If you were my neighbor and you were going out and pooping in your front yard, I would first try to get you some help. Not try to ship you off to western Flagler county. You may not take the help and you may just keep pooping in your yard but at least I would have tried. If I keep offering that help, I would hope you would accept it. If not, your troubles that got you to start pooping in your own lawn will creep in and you will move on.

  24. Concerned Citizen says:

    @ Fredrick

    You make a valid point. However it would be interesting to see the County make a legitimate step to offer help. Then to see how many actually take it.

    As a private citizen I have tried to do my share including giving money that I didn’t really have. It’s shameful that this County throws so much money to waste on useless projects. Yet they try to tell us that they can’t afford to open a shelter.

    We can voice our displeasure by keeping public pressure on this BOCC. We can further enhance it at the polls during the next election. It’s time to get some folks in there that represent US. Not special interests and campaign contributors.

  25. ASF says:

    The port-o-potty idea sounds like a good one!

  26. capt says:

    I fault the City of Palm Coast and the County for letting this get this bad. They allowed this unsanitary condition to occur and they ignored it, what till now !

  27. Me says:

    I am trying to grasp comments of those that are condemning the homeless. I wonder if, these are they same people that would look down on a homeless animal because an irresponsible pet owner that moved and put them out on the streets to care for themselves.
    There is a reason and probably many stories for homeless people reasons; that aren’t as blessed as others to have a roof over their head and a hot meal.
    Does that make those that have those blessed things look down on others less fortunate.
    Sorry, me as a human being can’t judge anyone of them, the only person, I can judge as them is ourselves.
    If, in anyway I can help someone in need, I will do my best, because that is how I was broad up. It is very sad others weren’t brought up the same.

  28. Mary Fusco says:

    @Concerned Citizen, there are many homeless that will absolutely refuse to be at a shelter because they will have to conform to certain rules and regulations. They would rather live in the shithole that they are now living in. The only viable alternative is to offer a solution or these pigs will just have to move on. No questions asked after a certain point. No matter what, hard working taxpayers that are doing without themselves will be paying for this. Therefore, if a homeless person does not want the help, they need to get the hell out of dodge (ANA Palm Coast).

  29. Fredrick says:

    @ Concerned Citizen

    Does it have to be the County / Government that has to offer help to the homeless? Perhaps that’s the problem. Where are the volunteers, the churches and other organizations in the are where this is supposed to be what they are all about. Helping others. Where are the people that should be be contributing to these organizations to try to offer some help to those that will take it. There are a few organizations and individuals out there doing their best to help but what has happened to the hearts and souls of people? Where is the compassion and caring from the community? Just look at the comments above….The City is busy spending money on important things like sculptures and such. That is never going to change. Don’t blame the county, don’t blame the city….. Stop relying on government to solve problems because if you have not noticed, for every one they solve, they create two more. Not all of the homeless “surviving” near the library want, or will accept help. In fact if it is offered many will just leave. But some of them just need a chance,,,, As fellow humans we should at least try to help in one form or another be it directly or donations to some sort of organization that is willing to help. Don’t worry you don’t have to lower yourself and get dirty… just help fund an organization that is willing to get dirty,

  30. Concerned Citizen says:

    @ Me

    I am by no means condemning those less fortunate. I am condemning some of the behavior they exhibit. Just because you are homeless doesn’t give you the right to disrespect property that’s not yours.

  31. Mary Fusco says:

    @Me, how many of these lovely people have you had in your house. Maybe they can use your spare bathroom and hopefully make the toilet or they can use your backyard and then you can shovel their feces up in the morning. I feel blessed that I have a roof over my head. I have never looked down on anyone. However, if these people who are shitting and peeing and dumping their garbage on property that is not theirs are offered help and refuse it. they need to be put on the next bus out of here. This is not an acceptable way of life. It is filthy and unsanitary. Take another look at the pictures.

  32. Edith Campins says:

    I am truly shocked about the lack of compassion, the downright cruelty and selfishness evident in the comments above. These are human beings. I bet many of you posting these vile comments call yourselves “christians.” Yes, the homeless present a problem for our community and no, no one wants human waste on their lawn and on and on. However, solutions can be found, if we work together, if we see this issue as an opportunity to be the decent human beings we can be.
    My wish for those of you with your narrow minded attitudes…may you find yourself homeless one day. That is probably the only thing that will change your minds.

  33. Dave says:

    I think our children should be taking trips with school and church to clean up the waste. I think it will help them in so many ways to work for the homeless and do fund raisers and help feed them. What an amazing life lesson for our kids, dropped right in our lap!

  34. GT says:

    What the F___ does Trump have to do with this? If anyone is to blame for this mess it’s the liberal politicians that give everything away for free! People need to take care of them selves not expect the system to pay there way in life.

  35. capt says:

    People mention “compassion”, there is no compassion when people chose to live like slobs. I’ve seen better living conditions by homeless in 3rd world countries than this. People chose , homeless or not to live in filth.

  36. Mary Fusco says:

    @Edith Campins, yes there ARE solutions. The problem is that many homeless people are NOT interested in any solutions that involve them complying with any rules or restrictions. They are perfectly happy defecating where they please and living as they are. Those that genuinely want help should get it. The rest need to be kicked the hell out of this community. Sorry Edith, but human beings do not live like this. Animals do and in fact animals do not shit where they sleep and/or eat. Think about it.

    @Dave, I sincerely hope that you are kidding!!

  37. Heartless says:

    My tax money, my house value going down. My city I pay into for everything so they can pollute and destroy it???? Hell no bus them to somewhere else. Nasty ass people.

  38. ASF says:

    Edith Campins–Judge not, lest ye be judged. Just sayin’…It applies to you too.

  39. Concerned citizen says:

    @ Frederick

    @ Edit Campins

    You are attacking us and disregarding the multiple statements we have made where we have made efforts to help. I have done my part and will do so as long as I can. I don’t expect anyone to do anything for me. I’m still not handing out cash or having someone I don’t know in my home. Read some of the articles on here and rethink that demand.

    Finally how long am I supposed to feel sorry for people who don’t want to change and remain disrespectful?

  40. Randy Jones says:

    Solution: Make panhandling unlawful in Palm Coast. Notice that these “encampments” are always near major intersections.

  41. SeminoleUS says:

    The Homeless condition in society is not new. Flagler County is responsible for addressing it with appropriate county Social Services and if necessary appeal to higher State resources. It is shameless that our government cannot adequately handle this situation. It is appalling that it has gotten to such a point that Environmental Protection needs to be involved. Devise a Program. Adhere to Guidelines. Channel Homeless individuals to law-abiding behavior. Don’t squat where you are not entitled. Don’t endanger the health and well-being of others. Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness means for everyone, but with rights come responsibilities too.

  42. Nevaeh says:

    Do what we were going to do when the City and County wanted to put them out of site and out of mind in western Bunnell. A very Large protest!!!!!! Not in our backyard you don’t

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