Thursday, April 26, 2012

Occupy Boise Holds Up Construction at Old Courthouse

Posted By on Thu, Apr 26, 2012 at 11:07 AM

Teresa Luna, director of the Idaho Department of Administration, is patiently waiting for one tent to move from the Old Ada County Courthouse lawn.

“When the Occupy Boise group first moved in, during November of last year, we notified them at that time that the Annex was an ongoing construction process,” said Luna.

Now Luna and the state are waiting for one tent to move back far enough to put up a perimeter fence for the forthcoming construction.

“To secure it, and give the contractor space to keep their equipment,” said Luna. “The RFP for that construction process is out on the street. We need to get the fence up, because once that contract is signed, the property belongs to the contractor.”

The land in question comprises the inner lawn of the property, ringed by a sidewalk that bisects the yard between the building’s walls and the city street. The movement’s tents currently occupy portions of both the inner and outer rings.

“That’s kind of the demarcation line,” said Luna.

However, the legal group behind Occupy Boise considers the use of the entire lawn a hard-won victory. Back in February, U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill ruled that occupiers could stay, but cooking and sleeping are prohibited.

The state has since filed a motion in federal court to ask Winmill to modify his February ruling so that Occupy tents could be removed to repair the yellowing lawn, which they agreed to do, though Luna said it hasn't happened yet.

"Their legal team is still bouncing that around," said Luna.

But until the courts lay down a final verdict on the specifics of the encampment, the Department of Administration is remaining patient with its approach to the Old Courthouse grounds. Until then, new rules devised by the department governing state property, including time constraints and other concessions, won't apply to Occupy.

“Just so we’re all clear, we are, for all intents and purposes, until we get a final ruling from the judge, that parcel is exempt, if you will, from the rules. We have an issue before the court that has not yet been settled. While the rules pertain to that piece of property, we will not be enforcing them on that property until we receive the settlement," said Luna.

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