Archive for Saturday, April 22, 2006

Salvation Army faces obstacles in building new shelter

April 22, 2006


The Salvation Army still has a $2 million hill to climb to collect what it needs to build a $3.5 million shelter.

"We're certainly not where we'd like to be at this point," said Wesley Dalberg, Lawrence administrator for the organization.

The Salvation Army plans to replace its existing home at 946 N.H. with a more expansive, two-building site southeast side of downtown. The facility will include space for sleeping quarters, a food bank, a gymnasium, a chapel, dining areas and other uses. It will be geared toward helping the homeless deal with substance abuse or other problems and find work.

That's a marked change from the current services, Dalberg said.

"Today it's a Band-Aid," Dalberg said. "Here's a bed. Here's a meal. That's what we provide right now ... That's not where we're headed."

The shelter's most recent hurdle came last month when questions arose as to whether the site should be rezoned as part of the Burroughs Creek Corridor Plan, which would change the site's zoning from industrial to office uses.

And Dalberg has met with residents in the neighborhood who have voiced concerns about the project.

Salvation Army leaders and others convened a special neighborhood meeting recently to reassure residents that the new facility will be different from the current one.

"We're going to do our best to deal with the issues that they have," he said.

Salvation Army leaders have tentatively agreed to put several promises in writing. This includes vows to never to house prison parolees in the facility, to create an advisory council with strong representation from the neighborhood, to never knowingly allow the facility to be a hangout spot, and to never knowingly allow illegal activities to take place.

Matt Tomc, president of The Woods on 19th Homeowners Assn., said residents in the area were continuing to watch the project carefully.

"We just want to make sure the land use that they propose is something that's consistent with the family homes in that area," he said.

Dalberg said there wasn't any real deadline for gathering the funds for the project. Construction is expected to begin in 2007.

He said he didn't expect a major public fundraising campaign, but the agency would be active. He expects to have events, such as a block party or carnival, to get acquainted with the neighborhood.

"We can't separate ourselves," he said. "That piece of property over on Haskell isn't an island. We want to be an important part of the community overall."


horrific_changeling 12 years ago

Put it in the current library, when the new one is built! No need to build a new building.

Richard Heckler 12 years ago

Nothing has been put in writing to date. There does not seem a lot of trust in the board due to many previous meetings with the board in which the neighborhoods walked away with nothing. Implied promises were part of several meetings which went on for a few months ultimately proved meaningless.

What will promises in writing mean? Not a lot. This will not be a legal document. Each time a director change takes place what then? Each new director thus far has come with a new plan. Who would enforce promises? This board has repeatedly implied they cannot set policy which would render promises meaningless.

Once the dowtown facility is gone that's one less place for the "street people" to legally congregate. Downtown how then do you intend to legally deal with the street people? Why not spend the money dressing up the existing facility and placing an outdoor area on the alley much like The Replay has designed? Once the Salvation Army abandons this needy group who will assume responsibility? People cannot be tossed in jail for being homeless.

Richard Heckler 12 years ago

Three neighborhood individuals were told by Rev. Forney of the Salvation Army that if the SA did not build at the Haskell site it was no big deal because that property would become investment property for the Salvation Army. Why not sell it,make a few bucks and expand at the current location where the SA owns the property? The SA should make wise use of its' resources.

Kelly Powell 12 years ago

I am having a carpenter friend of mine build me a shoe shine box.....When I am not working at my job I will go downtown , have a beer or a coffee, and proceed to make some extra cash.......I will gladly give up said box to the first homeless guy who has the testicular fortitude to try to make an honest dollar.

introversion 12 years ago

Brook Creek neighborhood association had a neighborhood meeting which they invited Mr. Dahlberg to. While he did show up, he couldn't really answer anybody's questions directly, he didn't seem to really commit to anything about the project except that he thinks its going to be a great idea, and furthermore, he didn't take any notes whatsoever about the concerns of his neighbors whom he is allegedly so excited about getting acquainted with.

Oh, there were two things he would commit to-

  1. They turn away people who are under the influence (which leaves them on the streets outside the facility to wander as they wish)

  2. They do no background checks to determine whether the people they give shelter to are felons or sexual predators. Instead, he explained that this sort of information makes its way through the rumor mill of the people who stay at the shelter.

It sounds to me like they should spend the 1.5m which they have already raised to create some policy reform.

The East side of town, especially in the area where this new facility is intended to be built has already taken it's fair share of community resources. Stand at the intersection of 15th and Haskell and start counting. I realize that it all has to do with money, that the property is cheaper and whatnot, but come on... keep these people downtown.

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