As recently as early Friday afternoon, there was a ramshackle tent just a few yards from the Brooklyn Boulevard exit off of I-94/694 in Brooklyn Center.
"We don't know if anybody's staying there or exactly what's going on
with it," said Rick Gabler of the Brooklyn Center Police Department.
"Our intention is to get it removed. It's very unsightly."
The tent was next to picturesque pines, a frozen pond and a freeway sound barrier.
"That property is MnDOT property, not the property of city of Brooklyn Center," Gabler said. "The Brooklyn Center Police Department and our public works are working with MnDOT."
Someone was apparently living in the tent, trying to survive a frigid Minnesota winter.
"As long as it doesn't bother people it's okay for that person to be there," said Lewis Yang, who lives just a block away.
But, legally that is not the case. According to MnDOT, camping is absolutely forbidden on their property and is against the law.
On the other side of the sound wall, from where the tent was located, is a city park and a peaceful Brooklyn Center neighborhood.
Two nearby residents did not even know about the tent.
"No," said Lori Doheny, "No, not at all."
"Nope," Yang said. "I was not aware of that at all. Nope."
Both Yang and Doheny expressed compassion for a person trying to brave the freezing elements in a makeshift tent.
"I think it's kind of sad to be honest," Yang said. "I've been seeing a lot of homeless people. There is nothing we can really do about it besides try to give them help."
"The ultimate solution is to get them help," Doheny said. "I hear of these shelters that are helping people move forward, get jobs, get apartments."
Late Friday afternoon the tent saga reached a conclusion. MnDOT removed it.
Eric Nelson, firstname.lastname@example.org
January 27, 2017