Friction on Frost
Editor of the Reformer:
The current choice of location of the homeless shelter pits a multitude of neighbors against the homeless. This action creates friction and difficult communication between these two parties. It may even pit neighbor against neighbor. Is this what we want?
I think this process could have been done differently from the beginning, and the location abandoned for a number of reasons. A concentration of "at risk" individuals that will have an impact through noise such as raised voices, fights, loud music, vehicles idling, stopping and starting and police and rescue sirens; smells such as cigarette smoke, vomit, urine, and vehicles idling which include the rescue and police; increased lights from vehicles, security lights on and around the building, and neighbors putting their own lights on for increased safety; security measures such as a fence requirement in a flood zone necessitates that it be 18-inches off the ground (which is not protection or containment at all), people cutting through back yards and tenting or just sleeping or passing out behind our houses, increased drug dealing, and prostitution; the impact on abutting long-standing neighbors; and an over-riding feeling of unrest and fear increased 24/7 with a year-round fully functioning "wet" homeless facility.
When it was first presented as a replacement for the no longer available First Baptist Church overflow shelter, we applauded the move. Not ideal for our residential neighborhood, but it had to be somewhere. The project quickly and invisibly morphed into a multi-million dollar social services complex with a year-round shelter. This outrageous move, facilitated by our planning department and who knows how else, is truly disheartening for us. We expected more transparency from our neighbors and town officials.
Our neighborhood, Elm, Elliot and Frost, is in a delicate balance and tipping the scales toward transient residents may just do this little place in. There may be neighbors or home owners moving out of the neighborhood to leave this difficult environment and that could cause further destabilization.
This looks very much like a downward spiral.
A year-round fully functioning homeless and food center is a good idea but 39 Frost St. is a bad location. This may be zoned "mixed use" but it will impact home owners and residents in the abutting residentially zoned neighborhoods. Some may be forced out of their homes.
Please, Groundworks Collaborative, be a good neighbor and put the facility in a low impact, non-residential location that everyone can support. Then we all win.
Robyn Flatley and Paul Miksis, Brattleboro, June 23