Rosecrance meeting and vote coming

Rosecrance meeting and vote coming

By Scott P. Richert

By Scott P. Richert

Freelance writer

The battle over Rosecrance Health Network’s bid to open a halfway house at 2415 E. State St. took an unexpected twist last week.

Craig Mentzer, the vice president of the Highland Neighborhood Association, and his brother-in-law, Andy Kwiatkowski, met with Rosecrance head Phil Eaton and offered to coordinate donations of labor and material to rehab another home (possibly in the same neighborhood) for Rosecrance’s use. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Bradley & Bradley Architects have already volunteered their services.

Faced with the proposal, and with petitions containing more than 1,000 signatures opposing the group home for teenaged girls recovering from drug addiction, Ald. Frank Beach (R-10) asked the Rockford City Council on Monday, Dec. 10, to lay the matter over for one week.

In the meantime, at Alderman Beach’s request, Rosecrance will sponsor a public meeting at 6 p.m., on Thursday, Dec. 13, at the Salvation Army Temple, 500 S. Rockford Avenue. Eaton says that Rosecrance has sent a postcard announcing the meeting to every person who signed the petitions. The meeting, which will start with a 20-minute presentation by Rosecrance, will be limited to one hour. Alderman Beach urged his fellow aldermen to attend, assuring them that “It is not a gripe and bitch session.”

Of the 1,004 signatures on the petitions, Alderman Beach claimed that only 410 are in the 10th Ward (where the house is located), and 19 are from a one-block radius around the house. After the meeting, however, he admitted that the “vast majority” of the other 594 signatures are from the 2nd Ward, which begins just one block west of 2415 E. State. The Highland Neighborhood Association, which has spearheaded the petition drive, lies entirely within the 2nd Ward.

Neighborhood residents at Monday’s council meeting reiterated their concern that the neighborhood has already lost too many family homes.

As Gay Campbell, the former president of the Highland Neighborhood Association, said, “[Having commercial or non-family residential houses in the neighborhood] is not the same feeling. When you buy your home, you want to have neighbors.” While Eaton confirmed that any drug counseling will be conducted off-site, he characterized Rosecrance’s halfway houses as “transitional housing. This all [the controversy] boils down to not what, but who. I think that everyone is hiding behind this issue [keeping the house as a family residence].”

When asked whether he was giving serious consideration to Mentzer’s proposal to help Rosecrance find and refurbish another home that would be acceptable to neighborhood residents, Eaton replied, “It is important to point out that this proposal is being called a compromise, but this proposal was delivered as an idea with very little substance or detail. I do reject the notion that certain people are not fit to live in one neighborhood and are to be relegated to another. I think this verges on profiling. I don’t see it as a compromise. . . . I think this is a suitable area, and I reject profiling of any form.”

Eaton says that Rosecrance had looked at “approximately 40 to 50 homes” over the last 14 months, before deciding on 2415 East State. An examination of the Multiple Listings Service found three other homes currently on the market that would meet Rosecrance’s stated needs. All are newer, and all are listed at a lower price.

They include 5987 N. Main St., an eight-year-old two-story with seven bedrooms and seven-and-a-half baths (2415 East State has five bedrooms and five baths), listed at $229,900; 4308 St. Anne’s Way, a 4,200-square-foot exposed ranch with five bedrooms and four baths, listed at $180,000; and 1003 N. Church St., a two-story with five bedrooms, four baths, and six parking spaces, listed at $189,900.

When asked whether Rosecrance had considered any of these homes, Eaton replied that they had not, and that Rosecrance had stopped looking at other homes when they made an offer on 2415 East State “several months ago.” (He later acknowledged that the offer was made in October.)

Other Monday night actions:

l In other City Council business, Mayor Doug Scott proclaimed Thursday, Dec. 13, “NAACP Day.” This year’s theme is “United We Stand: Democracy Through Inclusion.”

l Mayor Scott also proclaimed the same day “Nutcracker on Ice Day,” in honor of the current production at Riverview Ice House.

l By a vote of 13-0 (with Ald. Dick Goral [D-7] absent, due to illness—our best wishes to him), the council voted to approve a special-use permit for a plan to convert the old Garrison School in the 1100 block of North Court Street to apartments. The plan has been advanced by lawyer, downtown developer, and former mayoral candidate Larry Morrissey.

Scott P. Richert is the executive editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, the publication of The Rockford Institute.

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