Archive for Friday, February 11, 2011

Douglas County judge hears arguments in Lawrence homeless shelter suit

Decision could come within days

February 11, 2011


Whether a Lawrence homeless shelter can move from downtown to an industrial park near the Douglas County Jail soon should become a lot clearer.

Attorneys for the Lawrence Community Shelter and trustees of the business park completed arguments Thursday in Douglas County District Court.

“I know everyone is in a hurry for an opinion on this one,” said Douglas County District Court Judge Sally Pokorny. “I’ll send out one as fast as I can.”

If the shelter loses the case, it likely would derail plans for the shelter to move from its location at 10th and Kentucky streets. It also could create questions about the shelter’s future in downtown. The shelter’s special use permit that allows it to operate downtown is set to expire this spring. When city commissioners last renewed the permit — over the objection of neighbors — they did so with the expectation that the shelter would be well on its way to a new location when the permit came back up for renewal.

Attorneys for the shelter argued vigorously on Thursday that the homeless shelter has the right to relocate to the industrial park. Trustees for the business park contend long-standing covenants prohibit a homeless shelter from locating in the park, but shelter attorney Jerry Wells argued no such language is included in the covenants.

“What they want you to do is infer or imply a restriction, and that can’t be done,” Wells said.

But Todd Thompson, an attorney for the trustees, said the covenants are clear that the park is for industrial, governmental and business uses. He said the shelter doesn’t fall into any of those categories.

“The law does not require the absurd listing of every use you want to prohibit,” Thompson said. “One cannot intellectually, honestly read these covenants and conclude that they allow people to live in the park.”

City commissioners have approved a special use permit for the shelter to locate at 3701 Franklin Park Circle. But commissioners said at the time of the approval that they weren’t making any judgment about whether the covenants allowed a shelter use at the site.

Attorneys for the trustee group — which is led by Lawrence businessman Steve Glass — argued the shelter project is far from a done deal regardless. Attorneys asked the court to rule that the shelter doesn’t have proper standing to have filed the lawsuit — the shelter is the plaintiff in the suit — because it does not have a completed bank loan and thus has no certainty that it could purchase the building even if it wins the lawsuit.

Loring Henderson, director of the shelter, confirmed that his group doesn’t have a finalized bank loan, but he said discussions with a bank have gone well and he doesn’t expect that to be an issue.

The shelter has agreed to pay about $2 million for the building. Shelter leaders have raised about $1.6 million in funds, but anticipate that a “bridge loan” will be needed to close the transaction and to give the shelter more time to raise the needed funds through donations.

“The bank has always said ‘when, not if,’ when they have talked to us,” said Doug Brown, a commercial real estate agent who also is part of the shelter’s leadership team.

Pokorny did not give a specific timeline for her decision, but attorneys said it could be in a matter of days.


smitty 7 years, 1 month ago

To think, that if Henderson and the shelter BOD had been cooperative with the community, an acceptable location could have already happened years ago, as we have experienced with Family Promise efforts.

Deb Engstrom 7 years, 1 month ago

Family Promise is a very different organization than LCS. In fact there is no comparison. Family Promise serves a very small number of people -- all families. They are a wonderful organization, but comparing them to LCS is like comparing apples and oranges.

Deb Engstrom 7 years, 1 month ago

You are right -- Family Promise is a dry shelter effort, but it is only for families and serves only a few of them at a time. LCS needs a new location and more space ASAP

mysterion 7 years, 1 month ago

Sorry Moocher, you are wrong. Banks are lending plenty of money. Just look at the mortgage filings in the county.

Amy Heeter 7 years, 1 month ago

A dry shelter is the key to solvinh the problem.

Jean1183 7 years, 1 month ago

And why isn't a dry shelter now......that would solve a lot of the current problems.

sr80 7 years, 1 month ago

sooner or later everyone will stop drinking either through learning they are killing their selves or death,those were my options, i chose sanity and sobriety !!!!!!!

sr80 7 years, 1 month ago

thank you doctor SuperSmitty,but i will seek the advise of a professional !!!!

sr80 7 years, 1 month ago

out of sight,out of true those words ring!!!!

doc1 7 years, 1 month ago

They already ride the T for free. So the ridership will increase.

sr80 7 years, 1 month ago

there is only a limited amount of tickets available to residents and it is illegal to walk down that section of highway.its a catch 22!!! do you have a solution???

Bob Forer 7 years, 1 month ago

Hey oletimer, are you willing to let the shelter locate next to your residence? Didn't thinks so. In fact, I know of very few people or business, if any in fact do exist, that would embrace a shelter next door to them. Thats been the problem, and its a moral dilemma, because if nobody wants it near them, how can we morally justify forcing it next to anyone. Unlike many other larger cities with a homeless problems, the city of Lawrence is surrounded by sparsely populated areas to locate a shelter far away from schools, businesses, retail and neighborhoods, yet close enough to allow the residents access to programs located in the city. Let the shelter purchase a mini van or bus to shuttle passengers to the nearest city bus stop on an hourly basis. Land and buildings are cheaper in the country, and the savings incurred by purchasing a rural location could fund transportation. I have no problem with giving shelter residences free bus transportation. It won't increase the cost of the city bus service because they are already running, and it would be well worth it if it solves the many problems associated with having the shelter smack in the middle of one of Lawrence's so-called jewels, i.e., downtown. Explain to me what's so crazy about my idea.

kansasredlegs 7 years, 1 month ago

Perhaps we now know why the sudden interest by the Lawrence City Commission regarding the expansion of the parking garage under the Taj Majal, er library. Need a new downtown location to board the homeless.

doc1 7 years, 1 month ago

There are going to be some very upset residents in the Prairie Park neighborhood when their crime rates soar. Someone just post the address to this proposed sight so a mysterious tactical nuke can take it out before it happens.

gudpoynt 7 years, 1 month ago

What an amazingly intelligent thing to say. I feel much better after reading your comment. Your mother must be very proud indeed.

sr80 7 years, 1 month ago

typical stereotyping of homeless people,keep up the anti-shelter make me so proud to be my brothers keeper!!! the address for your nuke is 3701 franklin park circle,i can hear the air raid sirens blaring as i speak!! let'em roll doc1!!!!

irvan moore 7 years, 1 month ago

it belongs downtown, the commissioners just want them gone and don't care about the neighborhoods. nobody in their right mind would build a homeless shelter a couple of miles out of town and next to a housing development.

Bob Forer 7 years, 1 month ago

Why does it "belong" downtown. To use your words, who in their right mind would build a homeless shelter in the middle of the city's pride, joy, and jewel, i.e., downtown.

Run4More 7 years, 1 month ago

There is no good location for a homeless shelter. I don't believe the current proposal is the answer, but I don't have a logical answer either. I don't feel the Prairie Park neighborhood will be impacted by the move either. These people need a place to stay. We need to work up a plan that would get these folks off the street and earning what is given to them. That will eliminate some of the demand if these people have to "earn their keep". Start using some "love and logic" with the homeless. I am in favor of helping them, but we can't enable them either.

Lana Christie-Hayes 7 years, 1 month ago

I agree Run4More, but the transportation IS a problem, and being able to have easier access to it and the routes for finding jobs etc. Building a shelter in the sticks isn't even a bandaid for this problem. There needs to be some deeper thought as to what would benefit the homeless that might help encourage and empower them to get on their feet.

Bob Forer 7 years, 1 month ago

A shelter in the "sticks" can easily purchase a mini-van and shuttle folks to and from a specific bus stop on an hourly basis. I am sure the city of Lawrence would work with a shelter in the "sticks" to provide a bus stop with a rain shelter and a slight extension of a route of two to accommodate such a move, especially given the fact that it would solve the current problems associated with the downtown shelter. Where there is a will, there is a way. Unfortunately, Loring Henderson and the city have miserably failed to come up with viable alternatives.

LeBo 7 years, 1 month ago

What is mission of the Lawrence Housing Authority again?

Loretta James 7 years, 1 month ago

A lot of the homeless dont want a place to live. That would mean they have to spend their money on rent and with a lot of them their not going to do that. Volunteer at Penn House for a couple of years you find out a lot dealing with them. Most of them are from out of this town. Lawrence Housing Authority is helping people that want to get into a place right now they have a 2 to 3 year waiting list.

Bob Forer 7 years, 1 month ago

This does not sound like a slam dunk for either side. If the Shelter loses, I doubt they will appeal. If the Trustees for the Business Park, lose, they will probably appeal. In any event, it appears that the relocation of the shelter will be up in the air for at least a couple of years. Henderson and company should not have thrown all of their eggs in one basket.

People don't want a homeless shelter to move in next door. Can you blame them> Perhaps the Shelter would be better served by buying a small farm within a few miles of the city limits, lets say a house and ten to twenty acres. The house could serve as administrative offices, and large steel insulated, heated and cooled outbuildings could be built on the land for sleeping dorms, day rooms, bath and shower space, and a kitchen. \

T he shelter would probably need to spend around $300,.000 for the initial purchase and probably no more than $1 million for the out buildings. Would be a lot cheaper than buying premium industrial park space which will have to be remodeled anyway, and will avoid the problem with neighbors.

sr80 7 years, 1 month ago

sounds awfully close to a concentration camp,but who cares these people are the rejects of society.out of sight,out of mind!!!

Loretta James 7 years, 1 month ago

you might want to watch what you say some of your family might be their someday.

sr80 7 years, 1 month ago

matter of fact i already stay at the shelter right now!! got any more smarta## remarks Ljames????

sr80 7 years, 1 month ago

yes dr SuperSmitty you seem to be well versed in the evaluation of people,only SS can save such a wretched person as i. thank you SuperSmitty!!!!

Linda Endicott 7 years, 1 month ago

Don't you recognize sarcasm when you see it?

He's really for helping the homeless, and just ranting against those on here who don't care about them...

sr80 7 years, 1 month ago

if that is sarcasm,i would hate to see when SuperSmitty is being real!!!! he kind of scares me to tell you the truth!!!!

Linda Endicott 7 years, 1 month ago

I was actually referring to your post, and Ljames' reaction to it...

sr80 7 years, 1 month ago

crazyks?Ljames doesn't make but one post.what are you talking about?!?you and SuperSmitty are brewing a conspiracy!!!!!

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

It is very likely that the property which the shelter is wanting to buy is worth less money now and by the time the lawsuit is settled it will be worth less.

Market value is in the depreciation mode. Likely will not revert anytime soon. Maybe not for many years. Some Lawrence business people are still living that Bush/Cheney illusion of "boom town economics".

Bob Forer 7 years, 1 month ago

Unlike many other larger cities with a homeless problems, the city of Lawrence is surrounded by sparsely populated areas to locate a shelter far away from schools, businesses, retail and neighborhoods, yet close enough to allow the residents access to programs located in the city. Perhaps Mr. Henderson is unwilling to explore such an option because he will lose some clients, i.e., the ones who would rather sleep in the alley ways, under bridges, etc,. weather permitting. Bureaucrats typically have a desire to increase the size of their fiefdoms. its all about ego and power.

Terry Jacobsen 7 years, 1 month ago

It seems to me that a good location for the shelter would be somewhere close to LMH and Bert Nash and the Douglas County Health Department. That way if they need those services they wouldn't have the complication of finding transportation to get there.

Armored_One 7 years, 1 month ago

What about Tangier Mall?? A good chunk of it is still unoccupied...

just a thought

Commenting has been disabled for this item.