[Hpn] Don't Feed The Homeless

William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Wed, 16 Feb 2005 19:40:34 -0500


Fort Myers: 'Don't feed the homeless'

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


You've seen the signs that say don't feed the alligators, but in Fort Myers
you may see one saying don't feed the homeless. After receiving numerous
complaints, Fort Myers Mayor Jim Humphrey is drafting an ordinance to limit
homeless dinners served in city parks.

Christopher Peterson works at Centennial Park every day.

"It's a public park, a lot of kids here," said Peterson.

Kids aren't the only ones at the park.

"A lot of transients come down here," said Peterson.

He says most of them mean well, but some drink or use drugs.

"Drinking in public, drug using," said Peterson.

Every Monday at the pavilion, there is a church service and dinner is served
to the poor. It's organized by Joan Murphy.

"We simply come down to give homeless and those in dire straits a good
meal," said Murphy.

Where do they go after the dinner?

"The homeless stay there and then disappear into neighborhoods. A lot of
them have emotional challenges so you can understand it will scare
families," said Fort Myers Mayor Jim Humphrey.

Mayor Humphrey is drafting an ordinance which would put a stop to the weekly
dinners at all city parks.

"Have a limited amount of times you can have services in park," said

Under the draft, the services would be allowed only once a year.

Murphy and others are outraged.

"People are hungry 365 days a year," said Murphy.

The debate has started and the battle lines are drawn.

"We need to find an alternative approach," said Humphrey.

"I think it's a very unkind thing to do, to turn people away from a public
park which is supposed to be for the public's use," said Murphy.

Mayor Humphrey hopes to present the ordinance to the city council in May or

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