Archive for Sunday, January 3, 2010

Homeless shelter still planning move

January 3, 2010


Shelter still considering move

Lawrence Community Shelter director Loring Henderson confirmed Wednesday the shelter is still focused on moving to east Lawrence. Enlarge video

Lawrence Community Shelter leaders continue to focus on moving the homeless shelter to the former Don’s Steakhouse site on East 23rd Street, even though the shelter’s contract to purchase the property expired last month.

Loring Henderson, director of the shelter, confirmed Wednesday that negotiations to extend the shelter’s contract to purchase the property at 2176 E. 23rd St. were not successful. But the property remains for sale, and Henderson said shelter leaders believe the owner is still willing to sell to the shelter, if the shelter can win necessary zoning approvals.

“That site is still our focus,” Henderson said.

Gary Bartz, an owner of the property, confirmed he’s still willing to sell the site to the shelter, but said he also would consider offers from other buyers.

Neighbors of the proposed site, though, are now urging city leaders to open their minds to other sites for the shelter.

“I think the possibility of whether there is city land that can be used needs to be explored more,” said Pat Slimmer, who owns an auto repair shop adjacent to the Don’s site. “This is a city problem, and it is the type of problem the city should get involved with to the point of asking whether they have land that could be used for this.”

City sites

Two city-owned sites have begun to draw the attention of neighbors. The current Health Care Access site, 1920 Moodie Road, will become available now that the nonprofit health clinic has raised enough money to move to a larger location near Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

Henderson said shelter leaders have looked at the Moodie Road site multiple times, but said its small size would require a multistory building to accommodate the shelter’s needs. The site also would not allow for a separate jobs center building, which shelter leaders say is an important part of their future program plans.

But Henderson said the shelter would explore the site again if city leaders have an interest in providing the land via a low- or no-cost lease to the shelter.

A second site that has caught the attention of neighbors is city-owned property near the Lawrence sewage treatment plant east of the railroad tracks on East Eighth Street. The city has several acres of land near the plant, including a large lot that currently is used to house Dumpsters.

Henderson said shelter leaders had not reviewed that site, nor had city leaders mentioned it as a possibility when the shelter previously inquired about city-owned land that could be used for a shelter.

But Henderson said he would consider the location — even with its proximity to the sometimes-odorous sewer plant — especially if the city could provide transit service to the site.

“I really just want a place that is big enough to do the programs that we want to do,” Henderson said.

Mayor Rob Chestnut said he wants the city to stay focused on reviewing the proposal for the former Don’s Steakhouse site, unless the shelter specifically asks the city to investigate another site.

“The Community Shelter needs to be the group in the lead on this,” Chestnut said. “It is going to be incumbent on them to make a request.”

Concessions proposed

Henderson said he’s still focused on the Don’s site, and is hopeful that compromises can be reached with neighbors of the site to make them more comfortable.

Henderson said the shelter has proposed several changes to the shelter’s management plan after meeting with owners of several businesses that are adjacent to the Don’s site.

Those include:

• Removal of a policy that allowed the shelter to return confiscated liquor to shelter guests as they leave the facility. The new policy would be to confiscate liquor and not return it.

• A change in the maximum number of days a person could stay at the shelter without being enrolled in a formal program to get out of homelessness. The new maximum would be 90 days, down from 120 days.

Lawrence-Douglas County planning commissioners are scheduled to debate the shelter’s plan to move to the Don’s site at their Jan. 25 meeting.


Sunny Parker 7 years ago

The so called 'homeless' do not need or deserve a brand new 'shelter'.

Women with children should stay at the current location. THere is no need to house homeless drunks!

Do not build a new shelter.

OutlawJHawk 7 years ago

Hey, the dumpster lot sounds like a plan. A dumpster for every homeless person, providing food.

Are you kidding me? The homeless deposit their liquor while they sleep off their buzz and then can pick up their booze the next day when they head to South Park or the downtown sidewalks...what a freakin' joke of a policy. Who the hell made this policy...better be some liquor store owner and not a city official?

honestone 7 years ago

Mayor Rob Chestnut said he wants the city to stay focused on reviewing the proposal for the former Don’s Steakhouse site, unless the shelter specifically asks the city to investigate another site.

“The Community Shelter needs to be the group in the lead on this,” Chestnut said. “It is going to be incumbent on them to make a request.”

I propose a site by 6th and Wakarusa...wadda ya say Rob???

Zachary Stoltenberg 7 years ago

OK, this is gonna be good. I'm going to go make some popcorn.

Centerville 7 years ago

I've heard that 60% of the money that goes to the homeless shelter goes to staff salaries. It's starting to sound like we're trying to grow another never-ending government industry. We need to lower taxes, etc, etc, so there will be jobs for everyone, not pander to another bureaucracy.

budwhysir 7 years ago

better hurry up cause if ya notice, the homeless have already started to drift towards the fairgrounds in anticipation for this new shelter. We should just offer a security guard that would run thru the barns at the fairgrounds and keep them safe. A little hay, some old blankets, and they can keep their booze with them

50YearResident 7 years ago

I am still waiting for the disclosure of Henderson's salary and the salary of his staff, plus the estimated yearly opperating cost. This should be public record.

doc1 7 years ago

Time to burn down the building or buy it out before it turns this side of town into a big problem

geekin_topekan 7 years ago

I doubt domestic terror is the answer doc. Why don't you buy it? Put up or shut up.

Leslie Swearingen 7 years ago

The comments on this site and the ones on the article about churches sheltering the homeless are totally different. It's amazing it is.

nuby 7 years ago

LCS has yet to hold another forum with the neighbors surrounding the proposed location, as stipulated by the Planning Commission. I suppose they are planning to wait until 5 days before the Planning Commission meeting again.

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