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Archive for Friday, April 16, 2010

Another city commissioner raises concerns about proposed shelter location as threat of lawsuit looms

Neighbors have threatened a lawsuit against the new location and intend to enforce covenants on the building, which say it can't hold a shelter.

April 16, 2010

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Add the threat of a lawsuit to the list of reasons Lawrence city commissioners may reject a proposal to move the community’s homeless shelter to a site near the Douglas County Jail.

City Commissioner Mike Dever on Friday said he had concerns that landowners near the area may be able to wage a lengthy lawsuit against the Lawrence Community Shelter’s plans to locate in a warehouse at 3701 Franklin Park Circle.

“That is what concerns me, the time that a lawsuit might take away from the project,” Dever said.

Dever’s concerns bring to three the number of commissioners who have expressed reservations about the shelter’s proposal. Because of a legal protest petition, the shelter’s plans must win four of the five votes on the commission to proceed. Commissioners will hear the issue at their 6:35 p.m. meeting Tuesday.

Commissioner Lance Johnson and Mayor Mike Amyx both previously said they had concerns about the management plan of the shelter. Neither has said he absolutely would vote against the proposal. Dever did not go that far either. But he said new issues about covenants that have been placed on the property could be a deal-killer.

“I need to get some reconciliation with the potential land use restrictions on the property before I could feel comfortable moving forward with this location,” Dever said.

At issue are covenants that have long been on the proposed site. The covenants require any plans to modify the property be reviewed by trustees of the Franklin Business Park. Todd Thompson, an attorney who represents landowners in the park, said plans have not been submitted to the park’s trustees.

A larger issue is that Thompson contends a homeless shelter is prohibited by a covenant clause that requires all improvements be in keeping with a “park of the highest quality for business, industrial and governmental uses.”

In a letter to shelter leaders, Thompson said the property owners “will take legal action seeking to enforce the covenants,” if the shelter continues with plans to purchase the property.

Shelter leaders remain undeterred, and now are telling city commissioners that about $1.1 million in pledges are at stake if the site is not approved.

“The board is concerned that donor support will begin to wane if the issue continues to drag on,” Price Banks, an attorney for the shelter wrote to commissioners.

Among the $1.1 million in pledges are $215,000 in tax credits that expire at the end of 2010.

When reached Friday, Banks reiterated the shelter wanted to move forward on the proposed site, but said he did not want to comment on the covenants issue.

“I don’t want to get involved in talking about potential litigation,” Banks said.

The site near the jail marks the third location that the shelter formally has brought before the city. Previously, the shelter sought support to move to a former nursing home facility near 31st and Kasold, and then more recently sought approval to relocate to the former Don’s Steakhouse site on 23rd Street. Both times neighborhood opposition was strong.

Thompson, though, said his client — which is PDO Investors, a group led by Lawrence businessman Steve Glass — would offer assistance in finding another site for the project.

Thompson proposed three:

• The former Farmland Industries building on the eastern edge of Lawrence. The city is in the process of receiving ownership of the former fertilizer plant, including the building.

• The Veterans of Foreign Wars building, 138 Ala. The building is near Lawrence Memorial Hospital and other health care services, but also is near the densely populated Pinckney neighborhood.

• The former Poehler grocery warehouse building, 619 East Eighth. The multi-story building once was the centerpiece of a proposed redevelopment for the area, but Thompson said the property recently became part of a foreclosure action.

Thompson said the Farmland property offered a unique solution because the city could offer it to the shelter rent-free on a temporary basis, which would give the shelter time to prove to the community that its new management plan was working.

Dever, though, said he was concerned about the amount of money needed to improve the building, which largely has been empty for years. Long-term plans call for the Farmland site to be turned into a business center, and for the building to be demolished.

“I do know making improvements to a city building that ultimately will be demolished wouldn’t be the best use of funds,” Dever said.

Comments

consumer1 4 years ago

THis is the "WET SHELTER" ='s Drunk people. it is not a homeless shelter.

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MacHeath 4 years ago

oh, never mind, they own property adjacent to the lot on Franklin circle. Who are the trustees of the Franklin business park?

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MacHeath 4 years ago

Who is PDO investors? what is their stake in this again?

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IndusRiver 4 years ago

I can house two additional people very well, but there are rules where I dwell that beg to differ with me. We have problems. We just aren't allowed to solve them.

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Jaylee 4 years ago

“I don’t want to get involved in talking about potential litigation" -The Lawyer uh wow.

"...is near the densely populated Pinckney neighborhood." Downtown is already near the Pinckney neighborhood. Homeless people can and do get that far away from the shelter messing with stuff. That one is a dull argument.

“I do know making improvements to a city building that ultimately will be demolished wouldn’t be the best use of funds,” Isn't this the time-tested method that has kept most of the building around downtown Lawrence standing for decades? Funny because it's true, so laugh.

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IndusRiver 4 years ago

What of Applefarmer's idea? I like it. Doesn't have any social service, social engineering ring to it. Nice.

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jayhawk72 4 years ago

power of the fitist :o)

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oneeye_wilbur 4 years ago

Why are the women always in "transition" And now there is the single mom syndrome. What happened that the man left or did the woman just want a baby and no daddy? The whole country is going to be nothing but single moms in another decade.

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jayhawk72 4 years ago

I know i've commented on this before...but what if.....we try to find a "new" location for the womens shelter at 31st and kasold. I think people would be a little more receptive of having a womans transitional center in their neighborhood than a homeless shelter. then the shelter could be located in that building and it would have a wing each for families, men, and women, along with a fully functioning kitchen and various offices for rehabilitating 'clients' back into the working class. Just a thought.

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paulette2 4 years ago

how about USD 497 administrative headquarters.

LMH is nearby and the administrators could be forced to actually work among the teachers!

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IndusRiver 4 years ago

Some excellent questions are posted here, like "where does the money come from," and "who pays for that." I just don't believe that there will be an honest answer as I hope there would be. But as for questions with regard to DCCCA and Bert Nash and where are they to help people.....DCCCA and Bert Nash are the problem. DCCCA lures people to Lawrence from out of town so that they attend DCCCA programs, but when the programs are over (I'm talking about drug/alcohol counseling, etc) the people, mostly women, are technically left just standing there on Lawrence streets. And in the minutes from the CCH February 2010 meeting, it was brought up that Lawrence has a much bigger homeless problem than they originally realized. Bert Nash, on the other hand, is forever in budget crisis mode. I mean, no one can ever allocate enough money to these people. And what Bert Nash staff do is say something stupid like we can't help so-and-so because we just don't have the money.

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oneeye_wilbur 4 years ago

Just say NO to Loring Henderson. Why is it that the J/W does not see fit to print the full two pages of services available in this town? That would open some eyes.

The shelter can raise a million but the Library Board cannot raise a million to start a fund for a branch library on the east side.

How can the shelter afford an attorney? Who pays for that?

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50YearResident 4 years ago

Now the crying begins from the shelter management that if this doesn't get approved they will lose ofer 1 million in pledges.

Shelter leaders remain undeterred, and now are telling city commissioners that about $1.1 million in pledges are at stake if the site is not approved.

“The board is concerned that donor support will begin to wane if the issue continues to drag on,” Price Banks, an attorney for the shelter wrote to commissioners.

Among the $1.1 million in pledges are $215,000 in tax credits that expire at the end of 2010.

Where is this money coming from? Maybe the donors are beginning to see the light.

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applefarmer 4 years ago

What ever happened to the old way of the county work farm send them out to work off their time and grow food for the jail and others. The winter time they can clean the snow from the side walks. The problems were less with this policy. The transients new better to come to Lawrence or they would have to work.

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George Lippencott 4 years ago

About 90% of the funding for the shelter comes from charitable sources. Just about all the money to move the shelter also comes from private sources. The city sure seems to be making a lot of noise for the 10% contribution they make.

After three tries, I think the shelter management should just give up and shut it down until the city can figure out what it wants. These well meaning and charitable people are being jerked around by a bunch of politicians without a clue as to how to address the underlying problem. How about we just march the homeless to the county line!

Homelessness is a civil problem and not the problem of those trying to help these individuals. It increasingly sounds to me like Lawrence is a very hypocritical place. .

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ylime3499 4 years ago

I am very sad reading some of these comments and that the City of Lawrence can't figure something out. Human decency no longer exists in my eyes. Karma.

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Luxor 4 years ago

NO ONE wants this mess in their neighborhood. And people are sick and tired of dealing with the problems downtown. Shut it down, period.

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Clevercowgirl 4 years ago

We are talking about two things here. Veteren transients who will continue to hang around downtown, and families and individuals who need a leg up to re-establish themselves. There's unfortunately not much to be done with the first group. Removing services to the transients will cause some to leave, but it will also increase panhandling and crime downtown. A shelter that caters to those who want help in turning their life around, should not be so objectionable to the neighbors. I think that we need to realistically define who can be helped, and what effect an expanded shelter can have on our community.

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geekin_topekan 4 years ago

Hey jonathan! WHat's with the spam?

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Jean1183 4 years ago

Why won't Mr. Henderson run the current location as he says the new location will be run?

ANSWER: Because he knows that moving the location WON'T remove those homeless who are the problem (and that downtown merchants want removed). Until we stop enabling them, they will continue in their current situations.

There is nothing bad about "if you want to stay and eat, you must be clean & sober and you must work around here or be looking for work". Those that can't do that and cause problems that get them arrested go to jail where they are at least "clean" while there. We would soon not be known nationally as a place where you (the homeless who only want a handout) can go, and they will stop coming.

I say let the current location be run in this manner before we move it somewhere else.

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geekin_topekan 4 years ago

"Barry Feaker expects you to get up and go to church services" ++++ Yeah? It's a mission.It is there to hopefully bring people to believe in, and to worship an invisible deity that supposedly turned water into alcohol.


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Ronda Miller 4 years ago

Shel, Bert Nash, as well as other helpful and necessary agencies that assist our homeless, as well as other of our society's children, has been hit hard by funding due to our ongoing economic crunch.

A reminder to give to a charity, organization, of your choice if you can.

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Steven Gaudreau 4 years ago

Most of these people are mentally ill. I understand not 100% but if you have ever served lunch to the homeless, you would see first hand that a lot of these people are sick. There is no easy answer because no one wants mentally unstable people in their neighborhood around their families. It is a time bomb waiting to explode.
What about building a new shelter somewhere just north of the East I70 exit. What about the School House?

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Kris_H 4 years ago

Save your bus ticket money...many of your Lawrence shelter residents couldn't/wouldn't stay at Topeka's shelter (The Rescue Mission). People who are actively drunk or drugged aren't allowed in. Besides, Barry Feaker expects you to get up and go to church services if you stay there. (Not that I support that, but it's the truth).

There's still lots of room under the bridge, but getting rousted out of there is always a possibility. So is getting killed for something you have, or even something you said.

I feel for the people of all the cities of this state who are truly homeless, not by choice but by circumstance, and have to compete for and share space with those who simply won't make any attempt to get out of their situation. I also feel for those who really need some kind of mental health attention but aren't able or willing to access that, either.

There don't seem to be any easy solutions anywhere, and there isn't going to be any ideal place to put a new shelter.

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Shelbyrules 4 years ago

OK, I'll just come right out and say I'm from the left side, but... if we are going to coddle the homeless and take care of them, then there has to be a plan to get them out of their situation. I don't see this happening. Where is DCCCA, where is Bert Nash? Where are our taxes going?

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bearded_gnome 4 years ago

Maybe they could find an area resident to teach small engine repair and lawn mowing there?

---hey, and on saturdays that "area resident" could teach nude gardening for the guests of the shelter, then on sunday afternoons he could teach nude lawn mowing to them too!

wow, BC, this shelter might just fly!

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bearded_gnome 4 years ago

The site near the jail marks the third location that the shelter formally has brought before the city. Previously, the shelter sought support to move to a former nursing home facility near 31st and Kasold, and then more recently sought approval to relocate to the former Don’s Steakhouse site on 23rd Street. Both times neighborhood opposition was strong.

---wrong! they also tried to stick the shelter at 13th and Oregon! again, neighborhood opposition.

hmmm, suppose it is the drunken/druggie nature of the enabling shelter that draws so much neighborhood opposition?

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Grump 4 years ago

Lawrence doesn't need a homeless shelter. It should fund a one-way bus service for homeless to Topeka. Lure them on with strong drinks and greasy food and drop them off anywhere in North Topeka. Problem solved.

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Steve Jacob 4 years ago

So the city learned you have to put this in a poor neighborhood so the people who live nearby don't have enough money to hire a lawyer to sue. Nice.

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g_rock 4 years ago

Farmland? Seriously? You trying to poison them?

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Boston_Corbett 4 years ago

I kind of like the Poehler grocery warehouse idea.

Maybe they could find an area resident to teach small engine repair and lawn mowing there?

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