By Michael Canfield
When the neighbors of a recently opened group home for people with developmental disabilities on Rapids Road in Newstead first heard about the facility opening, they were receptive to having the human services agency in the neighborhood.
Just over a month later, however, neighbors have changed their position.
Problems with cars parking on the side of the road, several emergency calls to the home and news that a convicted sex offender was living in the home have all created tensions. Combine that with worries about declining property values, and residents near the home are less than happy with People Inc., which sponsors the home.
People Inc. “just force-fed it down our throats without talking to us about it,” said Joseph M. Dugan, a 23-year Army veteran who lives next door to the home with his wife and family.
- Why should a business have to come get your approval before they open?
While many on the rural stretch of road knew that a group home was going into the house, neighbors said, they had no idea that a sex offender would be among the residents. Now they have become worried about what other residents of the six-bedroom home might be a cause for concern.
- So if the ex-offender didn't live there, would it be okay then?
“This is something we’ve never had to worry about,” Dugan said. “We don’t know who’s in there.”
- Why don't you go over there and ask them? Get a tour of the place!
Michael J. Adymy, who also lives next to the home with his family, had moved to Newstead to live in the country and get away from the problems found in more populated areas. He’s starting to see those problems crop up now.
“We’re uncomfortable,” Adymy said. “We moved out here to get away from it all.”
Mark P. Outten, who lives across the street from the home, said he isn’t against People Inc., just how the organization went about putting the group home in.
“I’m not saying that People Inc. is all bad,” Outten said. “They do have some fantastic stuff going, but I think they did us way wrong. They didn’t care about us at all when they did this.”
Residents living near the home shouldn’t worry about safety, said Rhonda I. Frederick, chief operating officer of People Inc., noting that the home is staffed “24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
“Each resident has an individual service plan, and we provide the supports they need,” she said.