The eviction deadline arrives Friday night for one of Nashville’s longest running homeless camps — which happens to be on city-owned parkland. The mayor’s office is deploying parks police, and service agencies, at the 11 p.m. park curfew.
The tent village is known as “Camp Negley” because of its proximity to the historic Fort Negley park. That location is a particular problem for Metro officials, preservationists, and the nearby Adventure Science Center.
It’s been nearly eight months since the city postponed the eviction of campers. Many have built sturdy wooden structures alongside their tents.
The conflict over this camp is large and longstanding. It triggered a citywide debate about camping on city land, and the creation of a Homeless Encampment Task Force, — which delivered a handful of recommendations last month, but which continues to meet.
Lindsey Krinks, a housing advocate with Open Table, says there hasn’t been enough time to find housing for about two dozen residents — and there’s a core group that says it won’t leave.
“There’s between four and 10 people. And they’ve said, ‘I will stay here, I will get arrested, I have nowhere else to go, I want to fight this,’ ” Krinks said. “So we said, ‘We’ll stand beside you.’ ”
Sean Braisted, a spokesman for Mayor Megan Barry, said Thursday that arrests would be a last resort. The city’s focus has been on connecting campers to housing and services, with Metro willing to store belongings.
“Up until 11 o’clock that’s what they’re focused on,” Braisted said.
He said ample notice was given.
“Setting up a deadline — a lot of people wait until deadlines,” he said. “So there are many people who, I think, like living at Fort Negley. But there are going to be shelter options available.”
Krinks said shelters won’t suffice for some, and that others remain mired on housing waiting lists.
“The residents are really anxious and really stressed out, because there’s still between 15 and 25 people with nowhere to go,” she said.
Asked about arrests, Braisted said curfew enforcement will be handled on a “case-by-case basis.”
“Obviously, because they’re going to be in violation of the law, arrest could be made, but we’re trying to avoid that at all cost,” he said.
One resident who has vowed to stay is Chris Scott F., known as “The Captain” of the camp, and profiled by WPLN last year.
“He just stated that he doesn’t want to go anywhere that isn’t public land,” Braisted said.
The city expects a protest and has vowed to continue working with campers. But Metro Parks has had plans in motion for nearly a year to reclaim the hill for use as a public park.