WHEELING, W.Va (WTRF) – 7News spoke with Wheeling City Manager Robert Herron Friday afternoon and confirmed the homeless camp in East Wheeling near the Nelson Jordan Center will remain open on a temporary basis.

The decision to leave the camp open until the Winter Freeze Shelter opens on Dec. 15 was made under the following conditions: the camp and area surrounding the camp stays clean and criminal activity remains low.

Herron says the city has had serious problems occur at the camp for weeks previous to the eviction notice being issued on Oct. 6.

“It’s petty crime. It’s you know, it’s vandalism. There’s been a couple of fires that have been set. We had a city employee assaulted. You know, we’ve had illegal dumping. We’ve had people up there stripping copper. Just anything that you can think of that would be considered a petty crime, annoyance, crime, etc., that affects the neighborhood, but also, you know, the city as a whole.

Robert Herron, Wheeling City Manager

According to Herron, city resources were being “tied up” at the camp. He says, “it just got to the point where I felt that the activity at that site had risen to the level where we needed to close that camp.”

On Thursday, protestors gathered outside the Wheeling city building chanting “Fight Poverty, Not the Poor,” and urging officials to keep the camp open until the Winter Freeze Shelter opens.

Herron has no comment regarding the demonstration but did say the city wants to be fair and understanding to the situation while ensuring everyone’s safety.

“I spoke with the police department, and within the last week or so, they felt that the criminal activity had had dropped off to the point where we could temporarily leave the camp open until hopefully December 15th when the winter freeze opens. We are trying to be as fair and understanding as possible. The activity dropped off in the last couple of weeks since we posted it {eviction notice}. So therefore, I’m willing to give it a try.”

Robert Herron, Wheeling City Manager

Herron says if the crime and illegal dumping continue or become a problem again, the city reserves the right to post an eviction notice and close the camp.