Town of Union and state officials took action to protect people living in an encampment next to the Susquehanna River before waters rose to a dangerous level.

A Vestal resident living across the river worked to get something done to address the potentially-hazardous situation. He had noticed a growing number of people residing on state-owned land just south of Route 17. He was concerned about the safety of those near the river and about the debris washing into the Susquehanna.

A homeless encampment that had exist along Route 17 in Endwell. Photo: Provided to WNBF News
A homeless encampment that had exist along Route 17 in Endwell. (Photo provided to WNBF News)
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Union town supervisor Robert Mack said a tunnel under the expressway at the end of Davis Avenue provides access to a wooded area along the river.

Mack told WNBF News structures were built in the homeless encampment last summer. A sign was erected designating the place "The Minion Camp."

"The Minion Camp" that existed along the Susquehanna River in Endwell. (Photo provided to WNBF News)
"The Minion Camp" that existed along the Susquehanna River in Endwell. (Photo provided to WNBF News)
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Furnaces or wood stoves at the site occasionally generated smoke which prompted calls to the Endwell Fire Department.

Mack said fire equipment could not fit through the small tunnel to the encampment. That meant firefighters would have had trouble getting in if they needed to extinguish a blaze.

The encampment between the Route 17 Expressway and the Susquehanna River. Photo: Provided to WNBF News
The encampment between the Route 17 Expressway and the Susquehanna River. (Photo provided to WNBF News)
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The town contacted the state Department of Transportation, which owns land along the highway right-of-way. State police also were contacted as part of the effort to clear the area.

Mack said those in the encampment were alerted before water overspread the site following a period of heavy rain.

Toys were attached to fencing erected by the state DOT near a tunnel under Route 17 in Endwell. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)
Toys were attached to fencing erected by the state DOT near a tunnel under Route 17 in Endwell. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)
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The DOT erected a gate near the tunnel entrance in an effort to discourage people from returning to the camp area. But the site isn't sealed off and access is still possible.

State police reportedly have increased monitoring of the area.

VIDEO: WNBF News inspected the tunnel under the expressway in the town of Union on February 5, 2024.

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Contact WNBF News reporter Bob Joseph: bob@wnbf.com. For breaking news and updates on developing stories, follow @BinghamtonNow on Twitter.

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