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Letter: Shelter proposal is flawed

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opinion Fargo, 58102
Fargo ND 101 5th Street North 58102

My husband and I, and our two daughters have been residents of Moorhead in the Arbor Park addition for more than eight years. The addition is growing on the east end, with some lots still for sale and some being built on.

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I learned upsetting news three weeks ago. Churches United is purchasing property at 315 34th St. in Moorhead, just across the drainage ditch from our development, adjacent to Pine View Estates and next to other commercial businesses like Cashwise, Easten Shopping Mall and Walmart. The plan is for 41 units to house families with children.

I spoke with Konrad Olson and he reports that Churches United closed on the property. I feel blindsided with decisions being made that impact our development and neighborhood, and not having been apprised of these decisions in a timely manner. I feel this has been handled and carried out with a lack of respect for the taxpaying citizens of our development and neighborhood.

Nancy Otto, a City Council member, relayed to me that city staff knew of the proposed purchase and planned development but did not tell the council. Churches United needed for one elected body to give support for the proposed development.

Safety is my concern. I spoke with Jane Alexander of Churches United and she stated there will be background checks for those wanting to enter this facility, but can only say for certain that there will not be sex offenders in the apartment(s). There is potential then for convicted felons, those addicted to drugs and/or alcohol, have an unmanaged psych disorder, among potential other issues, to be living in the building.

Alexander also said, “We want to be good neighbors,” and I appreciate that statement. However, every occupant of that apartment, of what capacity I am not certain (100-200?), has a mind of their own, and not all people are motivated to get well, get back on their feet and become a functioning, contributing citizen. The potential for disruptions within and around the homeless apartment will be great, a sense of safety in our neighborhood will be tarnished, and the need for police involvement will be inevitable.

My younger daughter is upset because she is worried we will have to move and she will miss her friends. My daughter also asked me if she will need to carry Mace when she is playing outside. It makes me sad that our neighbors are talking about moving and that my daughter is already scared. Would it make you sad?

I would not be doing due diligence by staying quiet. I do believe that the population in need of this apartment and assistance deserve a second chance and an opportunity to get back on track. I also want to provide an environment that is as safe as possible for my children and our neighbors. This is just not the right location.

The other reality is the hit that we will take to our property value, much less the ability for any of us in the Arbor Park and surrounding developments to sell our home once this facility is up and running. No one wants to willingly move into a neighborhood that has potential for ongoing issues.

Ask yourself why if Churches United is the only shelter within 225 miles that is able to accommodate single men, single women and both one- and two-parent families, why is there not an effort to bridge the gap in those surrounding 225 miles?

I hope my concerns will be taken into consideration when comments about the grant that is requested by Churches United are submitted. We want to be heard.

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