A door covers a small cave in a former homeless encampment cleared Wednesday by Lewiston Public Works employees along Lincoln Street in Lewiston. The camp has been abandoned for nearly a year. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — City crews razed a number of abandoned homeless camps Wednesday afternoon in the area of Lincoln Street and South Avenue.

Among the structures knocked down was a double-decker treehouse, police said. City crews were continuing to remove debris and trash left behind by the people who once inhabited the camps.

Police said the camps had been abandoned nearly a year ago. Crews were unable to clean the area sooner because of winter conditions.

“The environmental impact with some of these homeless encampments have is pretty bad,” Lewiston Police Lt. Derrick St. Laurent.

Workers tasked with cleaning the encampments often uncover a variety of potentially hazardous materials, including feces, batteries and gasoline cans.

The area cleaned Wednesday is not on city property, but is owned by Franklin Property Trust. Officials from that group had asked police to clear the area.


“Public Works worked with police to ensure that it had been empty for a while before it was razed this morning,” Angelynne Amores, the city’s director of marketing and communication, said. “With the scattered nails, debris and teetering poles, it was not only an empty blight but also dangerous.”

A heavy equipment operator for Lewiston Public Works clears a homeless encampment Wednesday along Lincoln Street in Lewiston. The encampment was abandoned nearly a year ago. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

The area, behind the former Promenade Mall, has long been a popular location for the homeless, who set up tents, lean-tos and other structures in the woods.

The effort Wednesday was part of Lewiston Public Works annual “Pre-Cleanup Day,” according to Amores. The entire staff will canvas the city to start cleaning up debris and blight from the winter.

“Then, as the snow melts away, they will partner with volunteers to do another citywide cleaning blitz on April 15 and brush collection the week of the April 24,” Amores said.

In October, city officials announced they would be taking action to disperse homeless encampments in response to concerns from public or private property owners. City crews have also cleaned up similar encampments in the woods near Sunnyside Park, removing 9,000 pounds of trash after the homeless cleared the camp.

The action followed new city ordinance language put in place last fall that bans camping on public property. At the time, city officials agreed to delay the action until this spring. In the meantime, they had put up public notices alerting the homeless that they would have to clear out of the camps.

The new language says it is “unlawful to camp, sleep, or remain upon the grounds of any municipal building, and municipal cemetery, field or woodlands, or any other city owned, controlled or maintained property between the hours of 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.”

A heavy equipment operator for Lewiston Public Works clears an abandoned homeless encampment Wednesday along Lincoln Street in Lewiston. The camp has been empty for nearly a year. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

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