Some residents upset with proposed Rescue Mission move

PANAMA CITY — Residents of a local neighborhood turned out to Tuesday’s commission meeting to voice their displeasures with the location for a proposed homeless shelter.

Many residents of the Cherokee Heights community expressed a sense of being rushed.

“As residents, we should have consideration from the city for someone to contact us and let us know what’s going on,” said Jeff Payne, a Cherokee Heights resident. “We deserve to be able sit down with someone and discuss the impact this resource center is going to have on our neighborhood.”

A 70-acre plot of land was proposed to house the Bay Area ResourceCenter off Star Avenue. The goal of the non-profit resource center is to meet the needs of homeless, unemployed and disadvantaged individuals and families in one location, according to the vision statement.

City officials also hoped the Panama City Rescue Mission would move there but the Mission declined the offer.

“There’s safety considerations to think of,” said Freddie Kinard, ofCherokee Heights. “What’s coming to our mind is we’re going to have a compound-like structure. How is it going to look to the nation if we’re putting all of our folks in need out in the woods basically out in a pen?”

Kinard continued by saying, “it just looks bad.”

Several citizens asked the Board questions on a humanitarian level.

“What are we going to do for those who don’t want to check themselves into this campus? A lot of homeless people are not just down on their luck,” said Stephen Ringenberg, resident. “Are we just going to turn our back on those people if the Rescue Mission is shut down?”

Around 15 members of the Universalist Unitarian Fellowship of Bay County showed up to support the move.

“I commend the recommendation to build this project, which could be a model for the rest of the USA to address this problem,” said Jack Harvey. “We’ve gone from the issue of getting vagrants off the street to that of the human problem of helping those who have been disenfranchised and giving them back their dignity.”

He added that he was confident that when residents “find the details of this well thought-out plan they will be assured their concerns have been addressed.”

Mayor Greg Brudnicki responded with a call for an information campaign after the current Rescue Mission rejected a proposal to relocate to the area on Nov. 20.

“I believe we addressed that tonight,” said Brudnicki, of the feeling of miscommunication. “I think the Bay Area Resource Center will make sure they communicate better to the residents.”

http://www.newsherald.com/news/government/some-residents-upset-with-proposed-rescue-mission-move-1.55875

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