[Hpn] Creative solutions for troubled neighborhood;Framingham, MA;Column;10/25/01
Morgan W. Brown
Thu, 25 Oct 2001 15:02:02 -0400
As a follow-up regarding previous forwards which it directly relates to,
below is a forward of a column concerning the wet shelter in Framingham
Massachusetts which is the focus of negative attention in that community.
Morgan W. Brown
Thursday, October 25, 2001
MetroWest Daily News <http://www.metrowestdailynews.com>
Hornfischer: Creative solutions for troubled neighborhood
By Elsa Hornfischer / Guest Columnist
Thursday, October 25, 2001
When I sat down to watch a Framingham selectmen's meeting on Oct. 18, I
thought I was in for a short community update before I surfed on to
After a few minutes, I remained glued to the television. Two groups have a
most significant problem - each desires security and safety within the town
One group desires security and safety within the outer boundaries of town in
order to go outside, conduct business, walk the sidewalks, sit in the park,
or go to the store. The other requires the security and safety provided by
four walls of a building and a warm bed in order to survive Framingham's
cold nights. The first are the residents and business owners on Irving
Street. The second are the residents at a wet homeless shelter across the
street - open from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. every night.
At the selectmen's meeting, several Irving Street business owners and
residents described the problems they are having with the shelter across the
street. They do not feel secure or safe, and they have not felt safe for a
very long time. A business owner explained that customers are afraid to drop
by, trash is all over the neighborhood, and cars have been vandalized. The
wet shelter appears unsupervised, and people are afraid. The landlord of the
shelter, SMOC (South Middlesex Opportunity Council,) must protect the safety
of the neighborhood and its clients, the business owner added. Another spoke
of having to clean vomit off parked cars.
The landlord of an Irving Street apartment building, where many handicapped
and elderly residents live, relayed the problems his tenants have had. They
can't enjoy the park down the street. They don't feel safe going out to
shop. After several meetings with his tenants, he said it is a "dangerous
situation" and requires "police detail now." He added that he has been the
building owner for 27 years and has never had a problem like this before.
No one from SMOC, the landlord of the shelter, spoke at the selectmen's
meeting. Extensive discussion followed.
Selectman Ginger Esty supported having a police officer on duty in the
shelter at all times, while adding that our town must give more than lip
service to Downtown Solutions (an advocacy group for the revitalization of
Framingham's downtown) by affecting actual solutions.
Selectman John Kahn, a long time supporter of SMOC and its community mission
strongly suggested that residents must be safe on our streets and that no
one in this society should act outside the law. He added that we must act,
however, "effectively - not impulsively."
The Selectmen will continue this discussion at a meeting on Nov. 1 at 7:30
p.m. at Framingham's Memorial Building.
One of the ironies of the Irving Street agenda item is the discussion that
came before. During the first part of the selectmen's meeting discussion
centered on the following issue: A restaurant owner wanted to obtain a
liquor license. In order to obtain this license, selectmen passed along some
very strong advise.
A business must prove that there are no incidents. The restaurant owner must
have an unblemished resume. The transfer of a liquor license is important.
The town must know to whom it is passed. Restaurant and party servers must
be TIPS trained in order to serve alcohol. Selectmen reminded the applicant
that they "take the managers position seriously and want to be informed if
this position changes.
We must now give the same community attention to the concerns of the
neighbors, business owners, and shelter residents on Irving Street that we
do when someone applies for a liquor license. We must act thoughtfully,
creatively, and in the words of John Kahn, "effectively - not impulsively"
if these problems are to be solved at all.
The freedom and rights of one community group must not negate either the
right to freedom or the rights of another. The rights of the shelter
residents, however, just may involve more than the freedom and right to four
protective walls and a warm bed at night - but instead, access to the safety
and security that an alcohol and drug treatment program can provide. This
discussion, and subsequent creative problem solving, deserves more than just
a 20-minute agenda item at a selectmen's meeting.
The weeks since Sept. 11 have brought terror and emotional discomfort to our
nation. Some feel that there is nothing we can do. I believe that there is.
We must tend community problems such as these, for our neighborhoods - and
everyone who resides in them - must remain relatively healthy in order for
all of us to be safe and secure. These are the problems that are close to
home. These are the problems we can solve.
In the words of John Kahn, we must act "effectively and not impulsively,"
and in the words of Ginger Esty, we "must give more than lip service to
Downtown Solutions" - our town's advocacy group for the revitalization of
Framingham's downtown - to affect those solutions.
Come to the Nov. 1 selectmen's meeting and encourage our town leaders to
convene a broad-based community summit meeting to suggest, and then to act
upon, creative solutions for each troubled neighborhood group. This summit
must include representatives from SMOC, the churches, neighbors, business,
Downtown Solutions, community leaders, and police/fire officials in order to
A 20-minute agenda item on Nov. 1 just won't do.
Elsa Hornfischer can be reached at Elsa.Hornfischer@rcn.com.
**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this
material is distributed without charge or profit to
those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving
this type of information for non-profit research and
educational purposes only.**
-------End of forward-------
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA
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