MADISON (WKOW)-- The Occupy Madison group has accepted a proposal from Dane County officials keeping them at Token Creek until March 17th. They were originally expected to leave the park Sunday morning. Many campers say they're happy they can stay, but say the agreement leaves them worried about the future.
"This is a concern of ours," occupy camper Keith Valiquette says.
It has been two months since occupy camper Keith Valiquette first arrived at Token Creek. A former public accountant and small business owner who says bad fortune and waning health of his family has rendered him homeless.
"My 31-year-old son, him and I were primary in running the business and he was diagnosed with MS (Multiple Sclerosis) so he hasn't been able to work. We had to shut the business down," Valiquette explains.
That's what brought him here to Token Creek, an occupy community of 20-25 homeless campers. The group was originally expected to leave Sunday morning. It's an unrealistic expectation some say, considering several tents are now frozen to the ground which is coated in several inches of ice.
That's why a 13 person majority decided to accept an offer from county officials that would keep them at Token Creek, but under a few stipulations.
"Basically in the 11th hour we got another extension, but then on March 17th we're going to have another 11th hour because there's no legal place anyone can gain shelter," Valiquette says.
While many of the campers are happy to have the month extension they can't help but wonder what happens on March 17th and what happens next Winter if they want to come back?
Under the agreement the county would not accept any extended camping requests for next Winter. Some campers say they're fine with that, fully expecting to have employment by then, but others who aren't as optimistic say a few months from now they'll be in the same exact place.
"March 17th it becomes for everyone here, if there's no solution, we all just become illegal campers again," Valiquette says.
Members of the non-profit Occupy Madison Inc met at the Wil-Mar Center Sunday afternoon to discuss this issue. They're currently working on a cooperative housing project. The Dane County Board and County Executive recently released a housing initiative of their own requesting $1.1 million to be added to the county budget.
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