Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Normal Roundabout: Camping Prohibited

The Normal Town Council approved an ordinance prohibiting camping in the roundabout (aka Uptown Circle) as well as in the Gateway Plaza next to the Uptown Station (currently under construction). The reasons for prohibiting camping, as stated in the Town Council Action Report, are that these spaces were not designed for camping, camping would discourage pedestrian use, and camping might damage the property. People will still be able to use the spaces to "convey a public message" but not to camp/sleep there.

I guess it's for the lawyers to quibble about the definition of "camping." Does it necessarily mean staying overnight? Can't people camp during the day? Does it necessarily refer to sleeping? What if someone sleeps at the location during the day? What if they don't sleep overnight but keep actively conveying their message?

How should Normal balance encouraging people to use these wonderful public spaces while discouraging people from using them in a way that significantly interferes with the right-of-way and/or damages the properties? I like the image of these spaces as lively, popular places for public use but I agree that allowing overnight (non transitory) use does more harm than good. It will be interesting to see how public use of these spaces develops over the coming years.

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