BNSF Railway enforces restrictions in North Topeka area

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- A North Topeka homeless camp is no longer a home to the Tent City residents.

People who lived in a Tent City on BNSF railways property were told Monday they had 72 hours to leave.

"This is not a place for campers to come anymore," Andy Williams of BNSF Railways said.

"On Monday we came through with our equipment and cleared the trees. Cleared out a couple of semi-loads worth of garbage, basically stuff that had been dumped over the years."

BNSF said first gave notice in February that the Tent City would be removed. About 60 people lived there.

"Some of them were eager for it to happen, they were ready to move. There still campers gathered down here, but it's not on BNSF property or Union Pacific property or Topeka Rescue Mission property," Williams said.

Williams says new restrictions will be enforced, "We will have cameras in the area. We will be watching to see if folks do dump and we will ask the Topeka Police Department to help us enforce those laws. We will be patrolling the area looking for campers. We put barriers and gates that will prohibit folks that will be able to drive back here and dump."

Andy said the Topeka Homeless Task Force worked to provide other housing options.

"We are in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic and these kinds of communities are at risk. They have the opportunity to be in apartments and housing, where they can have access to all that and the services that they need," Williams explained.

The city says six people have moved into housing with grants from the Topeka Homeless Task Force, with two to four more in the works.