Downtown Rescue Mission (Huntsville, Madison, Hartselle: real estate, crime, lawyers)
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The flap surrounding the homeless shelter should concern everyone in the Huntsville area. The Downtown Rescue Mission has been forced to relocate from the Lowe Mill neighborhood and it has purchased a new campus just off Sparkman Drive, near the UAH/Oakwood College area.
It appears that this issue will be addressed at the Huntsville City Council meeting on Thursday, 4/10, at 6 p.m. The residents of the new location are incensed, and I believe rightly so, about the relocation. I believe that much consideration should be given to placing a mission in a neighborhood. I believe the neighbors should be given some measure of control in matters such as these. The long-suffering residents of the Lowe Mill neighborhood were never give such consideration.
Some people may not care about the location. As the location of the mission does not effect them, the matter is easily dismissed. I would like to propose a hypothetical situation in which a new public housing campus is proposed for construction in Madison or Hampton Cove. This campus does not necessarily have to be a municipal endeavor, as it could be a faith-based project. Imagine a large church receiving a large land grant from an estate and using the land to build many boarding houses/dorms for low-income/homeless/recovering addicts. Imagine this tract of land is in Hampton Cove or Madison, in an area not zoned to prohibit this construction.
After you consider this situation, I hope you can see my position that a neighborhood should not be forced to accept these developments. I propose the ideal location for this mission is out in the county, away from residential development. Any thoughts?
The only reason the city is involved is because the city promised to help them find a new location when the city forced them to move in order to build an intersection. The city reneged on the promise, which is why the shelter went looking by themselves.
You can't put a homeless shelter out in the middle of nowhere because it will sit empty; for it to function it needs to be where other services -- and the people -- are. Yes, this means an inner city neighborhood, generally a poorer one, and there's no way around it. Don't wish for them to move into the county -- without county zoning, they could move next door to anything they want.
As I predicted, moving the shelter didn't solve anything despite the back-patting among the politicians here. It just shuffles the problem somewhere else and everyone becomes a NIMBY. I hope the new neighbors raise all kinds of holy heck -- the city's utter failure to manage this process is something for which the councilpersons need to be held accountable.
Moving it will get more people to the Flying Monkey and help the people who live around there...
Drive past the Mission at meal time some day, it's shocking and saddening to see how many people depend on the Mission. I don't know how many of the people are from here, or if the Mission is a magnet.
NIMBY is a reasonable response - the Mission clients are responsible for quite a bit of crime (from theft and prostitution to assaults and worse). Plus, they litter.
Councilman Glenn Watson has vowed to fight the new Mission location (roughly University and Sparkman); IMO one of the better arguments is that it's too close to UAH and Oakwood. That area is already one of the most crime-ridden areas of town (drugs, quite a few murders) and part of University is becoming a prostitute zone (from US53 to Sparkman - especially aound the Silver Dollar).
IMO, the whole NIMBY trend has gone out of control in this country. The process is the same, no matter what the object of derision. First, there is unfounded fear, next a group of people will demonize the worst aspects, then a group of "concerned citizens" will band together, then politicians will make promises, then lawyers will get involved, then the promises will be broken, then the final result will be unsatisfying to everyone.
So, my solution is to put the rescue mission in the new quarry in Limestone county, add all the local sexual predators, toss in a new nuclear plant, add a "day spa", a liquor store that sells on Sunday, and a sex toy shop, a landfill, sewage treatment plant, a "gentleman's club", a movie theatre, a few bars, and a new prison. The only problem? You'll need to build a new six lane highway to it, since it will be the most popular place in the state. Soon, the trendy people will build homes there, and demand that all those negative effects on their property values be removed.
The lengths that some people will go to in their NIMBY quests borders on the insane. Tanner residents want "no quarries within ten miles of a nuclear reactor." Gee, now there is a logical thought process. You never can tell when a quarry eight miles away might undermine a reactor, or the reactor explode and contaminate all that stone. What about the schoolkids getting crushed by those big quarry trucks? Well, if the quarry has to be further out from the construction areas, the trucks will be on the road more, and more kids will be at risk. Logic doesn't matter in a NIMBY quest. The attitude is "don't want it, don't like it, not goinna happen."
The rescue mission my have a challenge if there is a school nearby, since some of the homeless may have had a sexual predator rap added onto their sheet at one point or another. Those in need of rescuing might not be able to use the facility or have to be vetted before being allowed entrance. How Christian in spirit. We want your soul to be saved, just not around here.
From what I've read the biggest crimes around the mission are public intoxication (annoying, but not really that dangerous) and prostitution. Since I am sure all of those homeless people are rolling in cash to pay for sexual services, it can't be possible that the prostitutes are there because that's where the John's go, can it?
I sympathize. Homeless people and the victims of domestic abuse that the shelter serves aren't a pretty sight. I am sure the folks near the Mission's old location are happy, but it's been there since, what, the 80's? It isn't as if it were a new problem suddenly affecting their neighborhood and property values.
I sympathize a lot more with the folks facing the issue of the shelter being moved into their neighborhood since they didn't have any say in the matter and the first they learned of it was yesterday when the relocation was presented as a done deal. The other neighborhood's gain is their loss -- problem not solved, problem just shunted onto their shoulders.
From what's in the news today, it sounds as if there's nothing that can be done about it now; the real estate deal is closed and the Mission owns the new property. The Mission appears to be very sensitive to the concerns of the neighborhood and is attempting to alleviate them with extra fencing, lighting, etc. As far as I can tell from the news reports, the Mission appears to be the only party involved trying to be sensitive to everyone's needs.
I don't fall into the NIMBY category bacause I don't want it in your backyard either! Maybe you can refer to me as NIABY - Not in anyone's backyard.
To further the discussion, I add that I currently live in Five Points and we have had a rash of crimes linked to homeless people. The homeless people have been disrespectful of many people's homes and property. They say they have a right to sit on your porch at 2 a.m. They curse you out when you call the police to report that they are breaking glass on your property. When asking for food money, and presented with gift certificates to local eateries, they curse you out and call you stupid and say they want money. It is not my Christian duty to endure this.
It is my right to protest the mission wanting to locate in my new neighborhood. If the residents of an area don't want it, it is irresponsible for city leaders to force it on them.
I wouldn't be presumptive enough to say what an individual's Christian duties might be. I'm sure it varies from church to church. I guess it might not include being the recipient of insults, but then there were a lot of martyrs that endured much more than insults, so I'm not sure.
I'm tempted to say that this is a free country, and a Mission can set up where it wants, but I've seen NIMBY attitudes towards a Jewish Temple in a residential neighborhood, and all sorts of restrictive zoning and covenants, so maybe it isn't such a free country after all. All the more reason why I'm happy to have abandoned city life and moved rural.
Just because folks are homeless doesn't mean they don't have disposable income. I am reminded of this daily wathcing the homeless bicycle toward the mountain with their twelve-packs of Coors. Trust me, I see at least three homeless men carrying beer toward their camp every day. From this evidence, I can assume that they can afford the services of drug dealers and prostitutes.
This problem is a developing issue because it has been mentioned that the Mission might sell the new campus and look for a new location in Southwest Huntsville. I have just contracted on purchasing a property in the Southwest section. This property used to be far removed from the Mission, but now it is very vulnerable to a potential return by the Mission. So, I am worried about losing a good chunk of change if the Mission is forced to move back to Southwest Huntsville.
Do you think we can convince the people of Hartselle to accept the Mission? I will volunteer to drive the moving vans.
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