Today the 22nd Avenue blockwatch group sent us a new letter about the controversial felon housing project that has been proposed for a house on their block. The lengthly letter (attached at left) gives a fuller picture of why the group pulled out of the negotiations on the Good Neighbor Agreement, citing several key issues:
- The blockwatch says they never received a response to concerns raised in a previous letter sent in February
- The city stated that it would not enforce the GNA and that any party that signs it would waive all right to future legal action
- The group received legal advice that they could be liable for any problems in the project if they joined the steering committee as they have been invited to do.
The blockwatch also takes issue with what they believe is an inappropriate injection of race into the discussion, saying that “the people most opposed to his project are older black residents who fear for their safety.” Having attended most of the meetings on this topic, we can confirm the controversy doesn’t fit into a stereotypical gentrifiers-vs-longtime-residents mold. The most outspoken residents have often been African Americans who have lived on the block for many years.
The group also lists open questions that they say remain unanswered:
- How will prospective residents be screened to eliminate violent offenders or sex offenders?
- How many ex-offenders will live there, and for how long?
- What programs will be offered, and are they licensed and insured?
- Will non-residents be invited to use the programs, and if so how will that affect neighborhood parking?
In spite of their stated misgivings, the blockwatch says they still want to talk to Reverend Jeffrey and “ensure that the project is well planned and operated.” They say that they’ve been trying to get State Senator Adam Kline involved, but that his calls to Reverend Jeffrey have not been returned.
We placed a call to Reverend Jeffrey to get his comment on the letter and involvement of Senator Kline, but have not yet heard back.