A man who has been setting up a tent and sleeping on the downtown Milford green the last few nights was asked to leave Wednesday by the Milford Police Department.
According to police spokesman Michael DeVito, the man left without incident.
While there has been an increase in the number of homeless people in the downtown area, Milford’s police chief and others have said that homeless people have rights that sometimes compete with residents using public places, such as the Milford Public Library. Therefore police have not always asked people to move away from areas where they are sleeping or congregating.
But where the downtown green is concerned, DeVito said setting up a tent there is prohibited by city ordinance. Permits can be granted on a case by case basis, as is done for downtown fairs and the like, but the man police encountered this week did not have a permit, DeVito said.
“He complied and he left,” DeVito said, adding that no charges were filed against the man.
According to Park, Beach and Recreation Director Paul Piscitelli, city ordinance states it is illegal on city recreation land to “erect any tent, or to camp or live in any park or beach, without written permission of the Park, Beach and Recreation Commission.”
Police offered to direct the man camping on the green to city services.
“Our officers offered to help him, but he said he didn’t want any help,” DeVito said, adding that he doesn’t believe the man is one of the more familiar homeless people known to frequent downtown Milford.
There were five officers on the scene Wednesday morning as the man packed his tent and left. But DeVito said it was largely a non-issue.
Several of the officers thought they knew the man, so they were on scene to try to talk to him, said Police Chief Keith Mello. Representatives from the Columbus House in New Haven also showed up to offer assistance.
“We handle these situations in a very compassionate, thoughtful way,” Mello said, “respecting their rights while taking the public’s concerns into account as well.”
A public works employee mowing the lawn on the green earlier this week said the man and his tent were in the way, but the city employees waited for him to leave before finishing the lawn work.
Milford has seen an increase in the number of homeless people in the downtown area since at least late last year, prompting several city measures. Those include establishing the Milford Public Library and the area around it as a park, Fowler Park, and sending a homeless shelter representative to the library to offer services to the homeless people who seek shelter there during the day.