Archive for Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Easy to say ‘no’

Lawrence city commissioners need to help the Lawrence Community Shelter come up with a plan they can say ‘yes’ to.

April 20, 2010

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There’s really no trick to finding something wrong with just about any proposal the Lawrence Community Shelter comes up with to move to a new location.

In fact, it appears that Lawrence city commissioners have found enough problems with the homeless shelter’s latest plan to relocate to a site near the Douglas County Jail and once again are ready to kick this problem on down the road.

Having been ordered by city commissioners to move out of the current site at 10th and Kentucky, supporters of the shelter have investigated dozens of possible sites around the community and come up with dozens of reasons each site won’t work. Mostly it’s a problem of residents and property owners not wanting an agency that provides services to the homeless in their neighborhood.

Shelter officials looked seriously at relocating the facility to a former nursing home near 31st and Kasold and later to the former Don’s Steakhouse on East 23rd Street. Both proposals died primarily because of opposition from neighbors. So they looked into a warehouse that was for sale in the Franklin Business Park near the jail on the east edge of Lawrence.

It was located away from a residential area and would serve the shelter’s needs. It was favorably recommended by the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission. It was on last week’s City Commission agenda but was deferred until tonight after — you guessed it — owners of vacant property in the area raised concerns about convenants on the property and whether the shelter was an appropriate use for the site. They’ve threatened to file a lawsuit to stop the project if it gets City Commission approval.

As noted, above, it’s not hard to find a reason to oppose about any shelter plan. A couple of city commissioners say they are concerned about the shelter’s management plan although the shelter group has made numerous changes in its plan to accommodate commissioners’ concerns. Another commissioner’s concern about the potential lawsuit is legitimate, but if threatening a lawsuit is all it takes for neighbors to block the shelter project, it will be next to impossible to ever get a site approved. Any potential site — including the three sites suggested by those fighting the current proposal — has problems, as well as neighbors to oppose the shelter.

If city commissioners want the Lawrence Community Shelter to find a new location from which to provide services to the homeless, eventually they are going to have to say “yes” to a plan. If they don’t like the management plan, even after the changes that have been made, they need to work with the shelter organizers to come up with a plan that suits them. If they don’t like any of the locations that have been proposed so far, they need to step in and help the shelter find a location that will work.

It would be nice if homelessness simply ceased to exist in Lawrence, but that’s not likely, especially because shelter officials estimate that 70 percent to 80 percent of the people they serve are from Douglas County. It also is easier for city commissioners to act as if homelessness is the shelter’s problem, but it’s not. It’s a community problem, and city officials need to show some leadership to find a community solution instead of just finding reasons to say “no.”

Comments

blondejuan 5 years, 2 months ago

I would like to clear up the misunderstanding of two things. That this town is "anti-homeless shelter". Every person I have spoke with believes a homeless shelter is necessary. It is the transient population that is of concern. The panhandling, threatening with railroad spikes, etc. I took the time to walk downtown this weekend and ask a few panhandlers if the shelter moved out east would they stop panhandling downtown. Most said "No". Link is still near downtown, so are all the people. One told me they would find a busy intersection and sit there. That would mean as the KU sports fans and potential new business owners arrive, they would be greeted with panhandlers.
Second, the neighbors around the new potential homeless shelter location aren't anti-homeless shelter either. They have offered to help create a group that would help to find a new location. Their concern is that East Lawrence is our base for new economic development. Which is needed to help keep our taxes down and employment up. We have East Hills, which will be half vacant by the end of this year. Farmland, which the County and City are spending millions on to clean-up. Plus, the land the neighbors have spent their personal money on to develop for new businesses. But our commissioners aren't concerned about these neighbors and their investment in the community. As one commissioner said"The homeless shelter won't effect those neighbors, they are just a tow company, salvage yard and a concrete company". Aren't they businesses that are just as valuable to the community as an artsy gift shop or restaurant? I guess its okay to let the transients sleep in their doorways. Just as long as it isn't the downtown businesses. Let's work together as a community to find the right

honestone 5 years, 2 months ago

It is simple.../ A dry shelter will face much less opposition then the current flop house

januarygirl 5 years, 2 months ago

What you have stated has been said in so many ways and repeated!!!!
Well said, thank you. I WISH THAT CERTAIN PEOPLE WOULD STOP STATING THAT THE PEOPLE OF LAWENCE NEIGHBORHOODS DON'T CARE. THIS IS NOT TRUE. A WORKABLE PLAN HAS YET TO COME FORTH OR IF IT HAS , ITS NOT BEEN CONSIDERED. THAT WAREHOUSE IN EAST LAWRENCE LOOKS MUCH TO LARGE TO MAINTAIN , IN ADDITION TO WHERE ITS LOCATED. THERE NEEDS TO BE A BUILDING CLOSER TO OTHER SERVICES .

Liberty275 5 years, 2 months ago

Here's an idea, look for a nice place in Topeka and keep the bums there.

somebodynew 5 years, 2 months ago

Oneeye- probably the people directly across the street, not to mention the Springhill Suites, and all the downtown merchants as it would still be downtown. (As if moving it is really going to do any good as long as they allow free bus rides.)

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