Community debates tent city relocation

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by AMY MORENO / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on October 11, 2013 at 11:18 PM

SAMMAMISH, Wash. -- A community meeting turned a bit heated, Friday, as a church and a community talked about the future of a tent city on the eastside.  They've spent the last three months at the Redwood Family Church in Redmond but must relocate by next Saturday.

Tent City 4 had planned to move to Bellevue, but the site there fell through and the group was forced to look for somewhere else.  “We were sort of their avenue of last resort and so they came to us,” Father Kevin Duggan explained.

Duggan serves at the Mary, Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Sammamish and agreed to consider hosting the tent city on a grassy area behind their building.  The church applied for the necessary permit and, so far, the city says it sees no reasons to deny the request.

“Tent city 4 seems to have its act together,” Community Development Director, Kamuron Gurol said.  “It seems to have a good internal code of conduct and we have not been able to find any significant issues that would keep them from locating here.”

Friday, the church invited the community for a meeting to discuss the idea and meet the people who call tent city home.  Alice Manchester was among a handful who came to answer questions and reassure the community.

“We run a tight ship, there's never illegal activity permitted in tent city,” Manchester explained.  Some neighbors shared concerns about crime and safety and said they felt like church leaders had made their decision. 

One woman declined to give her name but said she lives near the church and worries about how it will impact her family.  “It's private property so they have the right and we don't but the reality is it's going to impact the neighborhood because we live close by” she explained.

There are schools and a county library nearby, but so far the church says the majority of people have been supportive. 

The final decision rests in the hands of Father Duggan who says if there's no good reason not do it; he feels a higher calling says they must help.  “If it's in our power to do it and it's something important and vital to who we are and what we're called to be and to do, we can't really say no,” he said.

A decision is expected Saturday evening.  Tent City 4 must move by the following Saturday.

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