Mill Campground, seen here Aug. 15, is scheduled to close on Monday. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)

Mill Campground, seen here Aug. 15, is scheduled to close on Monday. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)

Mill Campground set to close Monday, without winter warming shelter agreement in place

Temperatures expected to stay above freezing, but with frequent rain, during coming week.

This story has been updated with additional information.

Mill Campground is scheduled to close at noon on Monday, with an agreement for a winter warming shelter for people experiencing homelessness not likely for at least a week beyond that date, according to officials.

“The last night to camp at the campground will be Sunday, October 15,” an announcement published Thursday by the City and Borough of Juneau states. “All campers should finish removing their belongings from campsites and food storage lockers by noon on October 16.”

Typically a winter warming shelter is operational when the campground closes, with Resurrection Lutheran Church operating the shelter for the past two years. However, two congregation votes rejecting operating the shelter this year in recent months — before the congregation approved doing so in a third meeting Sunday — resulted in the city looking for other locations and operators.

[Winter warming shelter now likely to be at CBJ Ballot Processing Center, officials say]

The intent is now to use a city-owned warehouse about a mile south of the Goldbelt Tram as the shelter, with St. Vincent de Paul Juneau operating it. But that requires approval by the Juneau Assembly, which is next scheduled to meet Oct. 23 when new members are sworn in after the results of the Oct. 3 municipal election are certified.

The contract for the winter shelter is still being worked out, Deputy City Manager Robert Barr stated in an email Friday.

“The campground does close on Monday, and we are compassionately working with campers to help them find out what their housing options are,” he wrote. “We have provider partners in the non-profit sector with navigation resources that do this work regularly, and we’ll help to facilitate those connections. Emergency sheltering at the cold weather shelter is a last resort option and we are on track to have it open before overnight lows drop below 32 degrees based on the current forecast.”

Dave Ringle, executive director of the local St. Vincent de Paul chapter, said Friday contingency plans to shelter people if freezing temperatures occur are being developed and, if the Assembly were to conduct a special meeting quickly enough, “we could have something up and running by Thursday or Friday.”

“We’re still working through the details, but there’s a lot of people putting a lot of effort into this collaboration going on,” he said.

The warehouse is currently serving as the city’s ballot processing center, with election certification scheduled Oct. 17. Converting it to a warming shelter will require the installation of restrooms and other living necessities.

During the past winter more than 70 people stayed at the church’s warming shelter during its busiest nights.

Ringle said an agreed-upon contract with the city will have to be approved by his board of directors, which is expediting its meeting scheduled for next Tuesday.

The shelter is intended to be open during nights when the temperature is below freezing. Caleb Cravens, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service Juneau, said Friday the seven-day forecast is for temperatures in the upper 30s to low 40s. However, he said frequent rainstorms are expected during the next week.

“Overall it’s looking warm and wet,” he said.

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com or (907) 957-2306.

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