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Residents concerned about family mission’s plan for former St. Pius X property

Residents concerned about family mission’s plan for former St. Pius X property

WARREN — Some residents living near the former St. Pius X Church property at 1401 Moncrest Drive NW are expressing concerns about the Warren Family Mission’s effort to purchase the property to open a women and children shelter in its former rectory.

Warren Family Mission is seeking to obtain a variance from the city, so if it buys the property, it can be used as a women’s shelter. Mission leaders met with the city’s zoning board last week to get approval for the zone change from residential A to residential B.

After hearing arguments for the change, the zoning board tabled the discussion, encouraging Warren Family Mission representatives to communicate with neighborhood residents during a Monday night meeting of the Northwest Neighborhood Association about what it hopes to do.

Caitlin White, the new executive director of the Warren Family Mission, said the organization wants to purchase the St. Pius X property and open a new shelter inside. However, it will not purchase the property without the zone change.

The former shelter was located in a two-family house on Porter Street.

“It did not have a backyard where children could play,” White said.

The former program, which has been closed while the mission seeks to establish a new home, was able to house, on average, 10 women and their children.

“We want to keep it at about that number so we can better serve their needs,” White said.

White described the program as a temporary shelter where women could get on their feet while looking for permanent housing and jobs. Families are able to stay at the shelter for 90 days.

White said the mission will continue trying to make sure area residents know what it hopes to do and convince them to support the zone change.

“We are not going to try to force it,” she said. “If it is not God’s will, we will move on.”

RESIDENT CONCERNS

Joe Musick, of Oakdale Drive NW., said he is concerned about the shelter being placed in a residential area. He expressed concern about home owners being able to maintain their homes’ values .

“I am all for helping people in need, but I don’t believe this is right for this area,” he said.

After the Northwest Neighborhood Association meeting on Monday, Musick said he was not convinced by the presentation from Warren Family Mission to support the zoning change or have this type of facility placed in the neighborhood.

Musick said those opposing the zone change are expected to take further measures to defeat the effort, but would not state what those measures would be.

Stephen Ruckman, who lives on Montclair Avenue, which is approximately a block away from the proposed project, went to the NWNA meeting Monday to gather information.

“I wanted to hear how they would screen their clients,” he said. “There already has been a deterioration in the neighborhood.”

Approximately 50 area residents attended the NWNA meeting to discuss the proposal.

“One hundred percent of those who spoke were against it,” Bob Weitzel, vice president, said. “We provided family mission a forum where they could explain what they want to do. We are not taking a position either one way or another.”

“Residents with concerns should reach out to the mayor’s and the safety service director’s offices,” he added.

SUPPORTER

Councilman Todd Johnson, D-1st Ward, sent a letter of support for the project to the NWNA and the city administration,

“The participants will be screened prior to admittance for drugs and criminal record and will be held to strict program restrictions in order to participate and continue to be housed there,” he wrote. It “will not produce an adverse effect on the immediate surrounding neighborhood. This will enhance the city and the neighborhood by uplifting families to better living situations and being contributing members of our society.”

Johnson said this area of the city traditionally has been very busy with people using the former Emerson Elementary School site, as well as the former St. Pius X parish school, and Grace United Methodist church across the street.

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