By Kathy Feist
The Missouri Department of Transportation began clearing out a homeless camp on their property along 135th and 150 Highway in Martin City this morning. The crew plans to be there for the remainder of the week and Thursday and Friday of next week, according to supervisor Chris Williams.
Earlier in the week, a path through the thick brush had been cleared from the street to the campsite to make way for the clean up crew and a small bulldozer. On Wednesday, the bulldozer was busy loading trash onto a couple of dump trucks parked on 150 Highway.
Over the years, several homeless individuals have set up tents on the state-owned property behind Walmart. According to Williams, their tents will remain at the site untouched.
Meanwhile, the campsite is filled with trash, damaged items, stolen property, feces, needles and more. Smaller amounts of litter, such as plastic bags and paper, have blown into the brushes near the Walmart parking lot. The clean up crew will pick up that as well.
Williams said the crew counted 84 grocery carts at the campsite as well as a mass of stolen goods–now damaged from the elements. Those items, primarily clothing, were more than likely taken from the larger stores in the shopping strip that choose not to prosecute shoplifters, Williams surmised.
Residents from the adjoining neighborhood, Newcastle, have put pressure on MoDot and Martin City in the past six months to clear the property of the trash and the campers. While the trash may be cleared in the next two weeks, the homeless may not. “I’m pretty sure they will be back,” said Williams.