Archive for Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Community shelter leaders moving forward with shelter plan despite setback at planning commission

The plans for a new homeless shelter have been delayed by the city, though they aren't dead. Action regarding the building will not resume until at least January.

November 17, 2009


Leaders of the Lawrence Community Shelter said Tuesday they are sticking with plans to build a new homeless shelter along East 23rd Street, despite the project receiving an unexpected delay from planning commissioners.

One day after the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission delayed a recommendation on the project until at least January, the real estate agent for the shelter said he was optimistic the shelter would be able to extend a contract to purchase the former Don’s Steakhouse property, 2176 E. 23rd St.

“We believe we can keep the property under contract,” said Doug Brown, a board member of the shelter and a commercial real estate agent. “We’re talking to the property owners about that right now. We believe they’ll be responsive to that request, but we don’t have that finalized by any means.”

Planning commissioners deferred a rezoning and special-use permit request late Monday after expressing concern that the shelter’s proposed management plan didn’t do enough to address neighborhood concerns. Those concerns included how the shelter would control loitering in the area, the procedure for turning away banned individuals from the shelter, and transportation issues related to how shelter guests will come and go from the facility.

The Planning Commission’s deferral created a major complication because shelter leaders were scheduled to finalize the purchase of the property in early December. Brown said it is not feasible for shelter leaders to close on the property without knowing for certain whether the site will win the necessary land-use approvals.

With the recent deferral by the Planning Commission, the earliest the City Commission could give final approval to the project is now likely in February.

Finding another site for the shelter could be difficult, as new details that were released Tuesday showed that the shelter unsuccessfully made offers for two other pieces of property earlier this year.

According to information that Brown supplied to the city, the shelter in February submitted a letter of intent to purchase the Knights of Columbus building at 2206 E. 23rd St. Brown said that deal failed to materialize after the two sides could not agree on a price.

In June, the shelter submitted a letter of intent to purchase the former Meseraull Printing complex at 31st and Louisiana streets. That project failed to move forward after costs to extend city and water service to the site — which is just outside the city limits — became significant.

A site on county-owned property adjacent to the Douglas County Jail also was explored. County Administrator Craig Weinaug said he approached shelter leaders about placing the shelter adjacent to the jail, if the new shelter also could be made to serve as part of a re-entry program that county leaders would like to have for inmates after they’re released from jail. Weinaug said the two purposes ultimately were determined to be too different.

“The sheriff did a great job exploring it,” Weinaug said. “We all just came to the same conclusion that it wasn’t going to work.”

Brown said shelter leaders also had considered — although never technically made an offer — for vacant property that is just west of Independence Inc. headquarters at 2001 Haskell Avenue. Shelter leaders determined that strong opposition from neighbors would be likely at that site.

Neighbors near the Don’s Steakhouse site had asked planning commissioners on Monday to delay the rezoning and special-use permit applications. On Tuesday, a leader of the neighborhood opposition said he hoped the deferral would give everybody more time to consider a host of options — including whether there is government-owned property that could be donated for use by the shelter.

“I know there is huge pressure to move this out of downtown,” said Pat Slimmer, who owns an automotive repair shop next the proposed site. “I just want to make sure we’ve explored all avenues.”

Shelter director Loring Henderson said his group will continue to focus on the steakhouse site, but said he definitely plans to meet with neighbors several times before planning commissioners hear the issue again.

“I’m certainly feeling better about the situation today than I did last night,” Henderson said. “I think in the end, the support (from planning commissioners) is there, as long as we can show that we can work with the neighbors. And we definitely will work with the neighbors.”


nuby 8 years, 6 months ago

Typical- they continue to push forward before addressing concerns. That's what has gotten them into this situation in the first place.

50YearResident 8 years, 6 months ago

"And thats when the fight started"...................

doc1 8 years, 6 months ago

You don't see any petition to send them to the west side of town. That building needs to burn down before they have a chance to open it up.

Family_of_3 8 years, 6 months ago

I'm reposting a comment I made on the "Plan stalls to move homeless shelter" article.

I would like to see Lawrence address the homelessness challenge by providing two distinct shelter solutions: one plan designed to meet the needs of those who are not substance abusers, and one for people with substance abuse problems. The needs of these two groups are so different... I can't imagine how a single shelter could provide appropriate services to both groups at the same time. For the former group, I’m a big fan of providing a diverse range of options, and I think our local churches have done a nice job with the Family Promise program, from what I’ve read. For the latter group, it’s more complicated.

I have a family member attending a substance abuse program in Phoenix - it’s the best I’ve ever seen. It is a long-term facility (participants often stay a year or more), and the participants pay for the program themselves through jobs secured with help from the program. Of course it includes housing, assistance with transportation for those without a license, and assistance with all the other barriers that stand in the way of person who would like to improve their lives, but who have gotten themselves into such trouble that it's virtually impossible to do so without help. I think a program modeled this way is self-sustaining and works to solve the underlying problems that lead to homelessness for people who suffer from addiction. It isn’t a “shelter” per se - but it does provide “shelter” in conjunction with other critical services that a person needs in order to address the problems that lead to homelessness in the first place. I realize we will still have those people who do not want help…they just want a dry place to sleep where they can continue using. I don’t have an easy answer to this. I think those in 12 step programs will tell you that if you make it easy for people to drink/use by providing a clean, safe place to do so…then they’ll continue to use. So perhaps the only option is to turn them away and hope they hit bottom eventually. Some do, some don’t, some will, some won’t. It’s a sad fact of life.

nuby 8 years, 6 months ago

Loring- I'm taking time off from my JOB (that's right some people do work for a living) to research this issue so you better have your ducks in a row.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 6 months ago

It's the BOD making this decision not Loring Henderson.

It is the BOD that sets the pathway. It is Hendersons job to move that pathway forward.

Talk to Doug Brown and other BOD members most of which are probably from the "west side" ot not anywhere near their backyards.

januarygirl 8 years, 6 months ago

there is talk of closing more schools in lawrence due to lack of funding and budget cuts.!!!!!! and the tax payers should just sit back and allow such a huge budget for the proposed shelter. mr. loring where is the common sense in all of this. there are plenty of programs and help already available for those in need. . this will not go through, not because the people in lawrence don't care about the needs of others, but because the needs of all the people need to be addressed.

eastsidepride 8 years, 6 months ago

Right on Nuby!!! That is exactly what we need. People who want to know more and are willing to act on it... You can start at Citizens against the relocation of the LCS!!!! one eye wilbur your figures are right on to. The amount of money our city is pouring into this project is ridiculous! 3 million was cut from our schools budgets this year alone, yet we will give the LCS 10,000 for bus passes and clothing. You nor I could ride that bus for free!!! I dont work because I love to work! I work because I have no choice and have had a job since I was 13!!! Charity begins at home!!!! We need to stand up to this problem and protect our beautiful Eastside before it ends up like our beautiful downtown!!!

ilovelucy 8 years, 6 months ago

What does Quakerism have to do with it? This thread is pathetic and sad.

januarygirl 8 years, 6 months ago

this fight is not just about the concerns of the eastside neighborhoods. what part of this plan not being a good one do you not understand. this proposed building should not put everyone under the same umbrella. there are financial exspectations, all the ongoing tax burden. the neighbors of east lawrence have no trust in what you are planning.

eastsidepride 8 years, 6 months ago

January Girl You are right! This should should be a concern for all Lawrence residents!!! If this was a facility to house only families and women I would not be fighting anything. This burden of footing the bill is passed to all of Lawrence. AND No East Lawrence does not have any trust in this plan!!! There are way to many unanswered questiions and liabilities that will fall to the neighbors closest to this site!!! They all keep saying there are no residents close to the proposed site... I can walk there in about 6 minutes... Thats to close for comfort!

50YearResident 8 years, 6 months ago

These facts should be public information: What is Loring's salary? How many others are on the payroll? What is their salary? This project is the "Goose that laid the Golden Egg" for Henderson and staff. Nuby, Check the current residents background information to see how many came here from out of State for the "Benefits", and how many have criminal histories.

januarygirl 8 years, 6 months ago

one-eye wilbur, i totally agree with you in every way. keep that info flowing, everyone in lawrence needs to be informed. there are so many conflict of interest with this project. i'm offended by the intent to win people over by telling us that they want to satisfy east lawrence residents when this concerns all of lawrence and also the people that would use the facility. i would not want to have to be in a shelter that is planned such as this one.

pat222 8 years, 6 months ago

Here’s the deal LCS director Loring Henderson is hard working and very compassionate, he has devoted his life to helping others he does not make squat. I respect anybody that works hard and believes in what they do. Please let’s not attack Loring personally.

I think that the planning commission spoke clear and loudly. Wherever the shelter relocates change has to happen. There has to be open real communication between LCS and their neighbors. LCS has an uphill battle. LSC announced this location September 3rd and then waited till November 12th 101 days later 4 days before the public hearing to meet with neighbors, trust was lost. Planning department rules and deadlines need to be followed. The process needs to be out in the open and transparent. We need open constructive dialog with LCS and the city.

The rights of hard working citizens and business owners as well as people down on their luck need to be respected. You can not force a shelter upon an area it has to be accepted by the neighbors to truly make it work.

Right now there are more questions then answers, these questions need to be answered before LCS moves. I think we all want what is best for Lawrence. Thank You Pat Slimmer

pat222 8 years, 6 months ago

Below is a summery of issues from the November 16th planning Commission meeting, this is pasted directly from a planning department email. If you have any questions or constructive suggestions about these issues I urge you to email the city’s planning department.

Issues I have listed in my notes from last night:

o Condition rezoning so not published unless SUP is approved o Address trespassing issues on nearby property in Management Plan o Bus stop (changes to bus route to provide service to shelter) o Consideration of only ‘dry’ shelter o Consideration of Douglas County residency requirement o Plan for foot traffic – can we identify expected/most frequent routes to various services? Foot traffic study o Transportation Plan – how will guests be transported to various services? o Should a committee be formed to work through Good Neighbor Agreement? o 15 year time frame may be too long/ or maybe a time frame is not required at all with revocation process in place o More information on consideration of other locations – why they don’t work? Why this is the best location? o Safety on busy street o Address off-site panhandling (on 23rd Street esp, impression as one enters Lawrence) o Management Plan should address off-site expectations o Need to spend more time with neighbors to address issues/comfort with ability to handle off-site behaviors o Success depends on LCS response to issues o SUP should be linked to bus service to front door o Address setbacks/bufferyard changes requested o Need to work with neighbors in larger area, beyond immediate property owners (such as residents of mobile home park, tenants in 10 Marketplace) o Management Plan needs to be more outcome based – more positive language o Plan needs to address what happens if shelter is full – what is done with overflow, or how do you turn people away/ transport somewhere else? o Management Plan needs to be tailored to this location and this facility/operation o More clarity on how guests will spend the day – what all will they be doing (service hours, counseling, appts) o How will outdoor area be used? Address loitering o What are impacts/relationship with existing food programs such as Jubilee Café and LINK

Thank You Pat Slimmer

nuby 8 years, 6 months ago

Is the LCS Management Plan anywhere on the internet? I can't find it.

slimmer 8 years, 6 months ago

You can find the LCS Management Plan on the city's web site under Nov 16t Planning Commission Agendas Much work is needed,if LCS had been forced to address these issues previously there would less problems downtown.

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