The West Broadway neighborhood and business community should be thriving, a major City Road close and adjacent to the Clark Fork River and a major hospital and medical center that connects nearby Downtown Missoula to the West Reserve business district. For possibly every other City except Missoula, this area would be a magnet for businesses and residents, but West Broadway is an area of old, blighted residence hotels, vacant storefronts, thrift shops and a river front used by transients. The neighborhood's reputation in Missoula is that despite the location along the River, the area is both unattractive and not safe for home and business owners (of which I am one). The relocation of the Poverello Center and its hundreds of clients from Downtown by the City and the Mayor (they are one and the same), the MRA and the Downtown business community may exacerbate the blight of the West Broadway neighborhood, but it did not create it.
Hopefully, when the Poverello Center and the Union Gospel Mission in 2014 have moved housing and other services for homeless, adult men to West Broadway, the problems associated as described in this article will be restricted to this already poor, struggling Westside neighborhood and far away from the Downtown law and government offices, parks, restaurants, art boutiques and residents. If the problems associated with some homeless men can be restricted to one neighborhood and kept out of sight from wealthier Missoula residents and tourists, is it really a problem anymore?
The announcement of the relocation of the Poverello Center from Downtown to the Trail's End site in the May 29, 2011 Missoulian, showed such a lack of sensitivity towards the Lowell Neighborhood from the Mayor, the Poverello Center and Downtown business interests, that you would believe they had consulted with Lebron James and his agents on how best to make a public announcement. The first impressions of most area businesses, residents and parents was not only resentment and frustration that they were not advised, or consulted before the Missoulian article, but that their neighborhood and School were being sacrificed in order to move the Poverello Center out of Downtown. Now that the Mayor and the Poverello Center have agreed to open up the process to all City residents and neighborhoods, the Poverello Center and it's residents will benefit, even if they find another location other than the Lowell Neighborhood, from honest, community support.
Below is a written statement from Mayor Engen posted on the Facebook Lowell Neighborhood Community website, Poverello...not by Lowell School, and below that are excerpts from the Missoulian article on May 29, 2011 announcing the new Poverello site at the old Trail's End Bar. Obviously, the Mayor and the Poverello Center Board felt they could "roll out the plan sooner" to Downtown businessmen who could financially and politically support a plan to expand and move the Poverello Center out of Downtown:
John Engen posted this on the Facebook page Poverello...not by Lowell School
One more post, folks.
Thanks for your e-mails and calls to my office. I’ll try to address a couple of process items that some of you have mentioned. I’m going to try this in a Q&A format:
Why didn’t you meet with neighbors before trying to secure the site? Because we didn’t want to waste anyone’s time and energy considering a project that may not have ever happened. I think we had to secure a site before any real conversations could begin.
Why did we hear about the project for the first time by reading about it in the newspaper? We don’t control the press and had actually hoped to have more conversations with neighbors and have some preliminary designs and policies together before making a formal announcement. That didn’t happen, so we’re catching up, slowly.
Why are you trying to push this through under the radar? We are not. We do want to have real plans and policies for folks to consider before we have a meeting to discuss the project. When we settle on a project (which, by the way, I hope will be improved through conversations with neighbors and the larger community), we’ll need to raise the money to build. A lot of that will fall on me, and I can’t do it without your support. There’s no perfect way to go about this, but we’re going to keep trying.
Isn’t this all a “done deal” and you’re just going to do whatever you want? Nope. The Pov doesn’t own the site today. I’ll ask folks to be patient; (My note,according to the May 29, Missoulian, they do have a purchase agreement to be finalized in September)
Missoulian May 29, 2011:
The planned relocation also has made allies of sometime adversaries. A group of business owners has coalesced to help raise an estimated $400,000 so the shelter can move operations a few blocks farther from the heart of downtown.
"When you look at the Pov (and) the way it exists now, it doesn't really fulfill the needs of the clients. It doesn't fulfill the needs of the community," said Mike Munsey, who owns the Depot Bar and Restaurant and is working with a consortium of banks and businesses to help raise money for the new shelter. "The best thing for them is to get a new facility."
Downtown businesses and the shelter have clashed in the past, but the Depot's Munsey said he was refreshed by the conversation spurred by the Poverello's outreach.
"We listen to each other, and we have some very frank discussions about the needs of the Pov and about the business plan. Myself and several other people felt that we could do something to help them," Munsey said.
Details are still being worked out, but a group of investors wants to secure funds to help finance the move. Munsey said the $400,000 amount is tentative and will be a challenge to raise, but he has been astounded by the response so far.
"I can't tell you how overwhelming the support has been in the business community, and we haven't had that before. I think the Pov board, the directors of the Pov, Ellie (Hill) and Eran (Fowler), have come to the business community with a very positive plan," he said.
The cooperation is a hint of a new spirit downtown. Gadbow and Engen both lauded the sense of collaboration between the social service organization and the business community.
"That's something we're really open to because the adversarial postures on everybody's part wasn't doing anyone any good," Gadbow said. "And it was hard to know how to get out of that gracefully for everybody, and I think this is providing a way to do that and to incorporate their help."
Missoula News/Independent Publishing |
Powered by Foundation