SKOWHEGAN — A makeshift camp in a wooded area off Coburn Avenue was vacant on Tuesday, the tarpaulins and blankets gone, the ground clear of debris.

Rod Rodriquez, 84, and his rottweiler, who raised neighborhood concerns when they moved in last week, were moved to a new campsite, Skowhegan Police Chief Michael Emmons said. Then late Tuesday, a couple from Benton offered to take him in, the chief said.

He declined to say where the new camp is or who the Benton couple is.

“The neighbors obviously didn’t want him there,” Emmons said Tuesday. “I don’t disagree with them; it isn’t the best place for somebody.”

Residents of Coburn Avenue, a residential street near downtown, said they feared the encampment would attract other homeless people. They also said Rodriquez’s dog was intimidating and they feared the animal would get loose.

The property had been offered as a park for “unprivileged people” to “enjoy the fresh outdoors” by Norridgewock developer Bruce Obert. He said the location was not meant to be a camp or a place to live, just a place to visit.

Emmons said because Obert agreed that Rodriquez was not allowed to live there, police had a right to move him, which they did late Monday.

“We helped move his belongings, but I’m not going to disclose where,” he said.

Rodriquez offered no resistance when asked to relocate. Emmons said he and Officer David Daigneault helped him clean up the site, so there was no mess left behind.

Emmons said police officers who wanted to help Rodriquez tried to get him to stay at the homeless shelter at Trinity Evangelical Free Church on McClellan Street, but he declined. The shelter had 28 men staying there Tuesday.

Senior Pastor Richard Berry said Tuesday that the church donated fresh fruit and vegetables to Rodriquez.

“That’s what he wanted,” Berry said.

He said the local Hannaford supermarket donates food to the shelter every day.

Women and children go to the shelter’s other location in Solon, he said.

Berry said the shelter requires visitors to fill out a contract, which includes giving their names and dates of birth. The names are run through the police department for a background check, he said.

When offered the contract, Rodriquez balked, Berry said.

“When they brought him here he refused to come in,” Berry said. “All I did was ask him his age because on the contract you put the date of birth so we can check them out. As soon as I asked his age, he said ‘Nope, ain’t comin’ here.’ That was that.”

Berry said Rodriquez was brought to Skowhegan last week from Norridgewock, where he was staying in a barn with his dog. The owner had to move them along because they too had dogs, he said.

“I would not have thrown an 84-year-old man out on the street,” Berry said. “We would have done something.”

Others have called and visited the police station with offers of food and a sleeping bag, but so far no one has offered to rent Rodriquez a place to live.

“He’s the type of individual that wants to be, for the most part, away from people,” the police chief said. “He’d rather be like a hermit; have a little small camp or a trailer, something where he and his dog can be by themselves.

“A young man and two little girls came to the window this morning and wanted to know where he was. The daughters wanted to take him coffee and breakfast.”

Emmons said that to qualify for a rent voucher from the town, Rodriquez needs someone to offer to rent him an apartment or a trailer. Then he can apply to the town for help.

Rodriquez tried camping out in Skowhegan in September 2006, when he had a great dane. Before Skowhegan, he had been in Farmington, Waterville and Madison. Residents complained about his sudden outbursts, and said he often appeared verbally confrontational, according to published reports at the time.


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