When two sides that are both right clash, what is the end result? An answer to that might be forthcoming when the city commission re-enters the debate over the community’s homeless issue when it meets Wednesday evening and reinitiates a discussion on nuisance properties.
The primary target: The Well, an oasis of sorts in Brunswick’s business district for homeless men and women. A product of the Christian nonprofit organization FaithWorks, it exists mainly to help those who live on the street by providing the kind of services that would be the first steps in improving their circumstances and subsequently their lives.
It is a cup of coffee or a glass of tea and a friendly face for those only seeking temporary shelter from the elements.
To commissioners, it is all of that, but they understand that as city leaders, they must recognize the problem the homeless shelter is creating in the community. They know from the incidents that have occurred in this port town that not everyone drawn to this oasis near the corner of Norwich and Gloucester streets is of sound mind or is as concerned about the welfare of others as The Well is for them. They commit crimes, thefts mostly, but occasionally something worse. The recent stabbing of a businessman on Gloucester Street, for example, was allegedly committed by a homeless individual a short distance from the shelter.
A vicious assault on a human being is not something commissioners can ignore. The incident is sure to come up at the commission’s 6 p.m. meeting at Old City Hall on Newcastle Street. A discussion of “nuisance” properties is on the official agenda.
Both sides enter the arena of this renewed debate with valid issues and concerns. So what happens when one just side faces another over an emotional issue?
One potential solution would be to relocate The Well, move it out of the city’s business district. Great idea, but who would care to have such a facility anywhere near them? Not many, we’d venture to say. While residents are more than willing to aid those who need or who ask for help, they are none too eager to have a homeless magnet near them, especially those who are familiar with all the complaints ignited by the unsightly behavior of some of the men and women who hang around The Well.
It goes without saying, based on their comments, that city commissioners respect the cause and feel an obligation to lend a hand to the downtrodden, but they must balance those feelings with the safety of those investing in Brunswick’s economy and the public in general.