City pushing forward with homeless intake center site
City leaders and nonprofit organizers Tuesday night gave another presentation of why they want to build a homeless intake center off Bendix Drive near the airport.
Opponents again said it’s a needed service, it’s just too close to businesses, a park, a school, a day care center and an apartment complex.
Mayor James Mueller opened the meeting saying he wanted to be transparent: the city is moving forward with plans to buy the land for the center. It’s on the city redevelopment commission’s meeting agenda Thursday.
But Mueller said multiple property owners recently have offered alternative sites. He said the city is considering them, but if none pan out, it will move forward with this site.
"Even if the Redevelopment Commission moves forward on a land purchase, it doesn't mean we're no longer open to alternative sites," Mueller said. "We're going to run down and make sure we find the best site possible for this critical service in our community."
The city is now offering to require the center’s nonprofit operator to erect a 10-foot fence around the center and staff 24/7 security.
People spoke for and against the proposal. The opponents included Mike Garatoni, owner of the Growing Kids Learning Center about a half-mile away from the site.
Garatoni criticized the city for spending so much time again Tuesday night selling the concept of helping the homeless.
"They're acting like somehow we don't care about homeless people," Garatoni said. "Work with the residents, work with the people in the community, to figure out a way to work together to solve the problem. Right now what they're simply discussing is how this part of town drew the short straw and so sorry guys, it's you. You've gotta suck it up for the entire city."