Reader letters Aug. 1

Jul 31, 2014

Consider security at new shelter

To the editor:

Upon returning to my hometown of Waynesville after spending 30 years pursuing a professional career in Atlanta, I have been following with great interest the plans for the Haywood Pathways Center.

By using the former jail, I can see how this would be an ideal facility because of the kitchen, cafeteria, sleeping areas, office and storage capabilities already in place.

The last 10 years of my tenure in Atlanta were spent in the midtown area; much larger but in many ways similar to the west Waynesville area. The primary resemblance is the desire of each to reinvent/build up/breathe new life into their respective communities after years of neglect.

For the past few years, a sizeable number of young professionals and businesses have been moving back to midtown Atlanta.

This influx has spurred a revival after a 20-year downward spiral.
I was optimistic about the growth taking place, but after two major downtown churches opened soup kitchens and a homeless shelter, there was a rise in vagrancy, solicitations and crime.

Anticipating retirement and the move back to my hometown, I learned the Haywood County commissioners leased a large, valuable piece of taxpayer’s property two blocks from my home for $1 a year for 20 years to be used as a homeless shelter and soup kitchen. Naturally, this concerned me.

A recent article in The Mountaineer mentioned security measures as well as the dedication of staff and law enforcement in dealing with this proposed facility. My experience is that there are established check in/out times for the shelter clientele. What exactly are the intentions of teh town in being able to provide security for the neighboring communities and businesses when the facility is closed during the day?

Another concern: One of the proponents of the project stated, “Anyone who doesn’t belong will be bused back to where they came from.”
This is a very ambiguous claim. I would like tlo know the specific protocol of who will be deemed “not belonging” and how a bus service will be implemented.

Are there going to have to be issues addressed such as loitering and soliciting and will it have to become a problem before steps are taken?

the Balsam Road area has made great strides with the huge growth of businesses and home improvements, while Frog Level has not been able to achieve the same level of rejuvenation. I am concerned about the possible loss of property values and decline of new business interests, and I don’t want to, again, be wary of stepping out my front door, nor should my neighbors be afraid to let their children play outside.

My great grandfather was the former mayor of Hazelwood, my grandparents operated several businesses in the Five Points area of Balsam Road and my uncle a former Hazelwood alderman.

There is a definite need for the shelter and the proposed location appears to fit the bill. But for this to be a successful venture, the residents have the right to know exactly how their tax money is going to be spent by elected officials in addressing these issues.

Bill Revis

Waynesville

Comments (1)
Posted by: Scott Lilly | Jul 31, 2014 17:40

Would it be selfish of me to be concerned about Mr. Revis's worries?  ;-)

 

He makes excellent points and has courage to bring them forth in public.  Let's legitimately find ways to mitigate the risks and find solutions.  Look before we leap.  (Much like the LJ annexation.)

 

I would much rather plan to avoid problems while providing this community benefit than living with the problem while trying to determine what to do about it.  If the stated plan is to bus people who don't belong elsewhere, I'd say that plan needs a little more development before we're ready to go.  If it were that easy, we could just bus everyone who breaks the law out of town.  If a good plan is not yet developed, then we're not ready to take this on.  Those that support this initiative, listen up.  We're telling you what the concerns/objections are.  That's the beauty of debate and the value of this forum.



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