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PECO clears out Pottstown homeless camp

POTTSTOWN — Another homeless encampment in the borough was cleared of people on Thursday, this time by PECO.

A small encampment had been set up alongside a PECO substation on College Drive, directly across from the main entrance to Riverfront Park.

A former resident of the encampment, who said he is known as “TeePee” Tony “because I built a TeePee,” said the clearing began Thursday, one day later than the deadline announced on signs posted at the site.

Tony said he had lived at that location for about a year and that there were rarely more than a half-dozen people there, adding “although sometimes in the winter, we would have eight or more people in sleeping in the TeePee for warmth.”

A crew clears brush and trees Thursday from around a PECO sub-station on College Drive where an encampment for the homeless had sprung up. (Evan Brandt -- MediaNews Group)
A crew clears brush and trees Thursday from around a PECO sub-station on College Drive where an encampment for the homeless had sprung up. (Evan Brandt — MediaNews Group)

“They’ve been pretty nice about it. They came and talked to us over the last six months and let us know they would be doing this,” he said. “I don’t think they wanted to move us out during the winter. They’ve been very friendly and I wasn’t about to fight them about it.”

Tony, 44, said he is originally from Upper Pottsgrove but has lived all over the country.

“I’m kind of a gypsy,” he said but returned to the area because it was familiar to him.

On Thursday, he and a friend and sometime fellow camper, Ryan Grace, were going through the things accumulated at the site, trying to decide what could be salvaged.

Trash and other debris are cleared from a homeless encampment at a PECO substation on College Drive and disposed of into a dumpster Thursday. (Evan Brandt -- MediaNews Group)
Trash and other debris are cleared from a homeless encampment at a PECO substation on College Drive and disposed of into a dumpster Thursday. (Evan Brandt — MediaNews Group)

“I asked PECO for a dumpster, but they couldn’t do that because it could be a liability problem, which I understand,” Tony said. “I just want to go over there and apologize to them, the mess is kind of embarrassing.”

Workers doing the cleanup work declined to comment and referred a reporter to a PECO corporate spokesperson.

Greg Smore, director of communications for PECO, issued the following statement:

PECO posted a warning at a homeless encampment next to its substation on College Drive that it will be swept on April 10. ( MediaNews Group File Photo)
PECO posted a warning at a homeless encampment next to its substation on College Drive that it will be swept on April 10. ( MediaNews Group File Photo)

“Prior to starting our work, we took the necessary time to develop a thoughtful and planned approach to support the relocation of unsheltered individuals on our property in a dignified and respectful way. We worked with Montgomery County and homeless outreach organization, Access Services, to develop a relocation plan, and shared this plan with advocates and local officials,” Smore wrote.

“We offered temporary storage for possessions if it was requested, and ample advanced notification was given to those in the encampment. Access Services has been on site, conducting direct outreach and connecting individuals with services to assist in their relocation.”

Tony said he “has an idea” about where he will go next, adding “but I’m not sure.”

PECO’s sweep comes less than one week after more than 50 volunteers descended on an abandoned encampment along the Schuylkill River about a half-mile away and cleared that out.


Source: Berkshire mont

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