Traverse City Commissioners Discuss Safe Harbor Conflict Resolution

A proposal for an emergency homeless shelter continues to cause controversy in Traverse City commissioners looking for more ways to end that controversy.

The Traverse City Board of Commissioners revisited the proposal for a new emergency homeless shelter tonight…this time, trying resolve any issues surrounding it.

The issue began in February when the Safe Harbor shelter went to the city commission in the hopes of moving into this building on Wellington Street.

Some local business owners and people who live in the neighborhood don’t want the shelter there.

Nine and Ten’s Cody Boyer and photojournalist Jeff Blevins spoke to both sides at tonight’s meeting with our continuing coverage.

———————————————-

Tonight’s meeting was all about addressing the conflict between the public and all of the parties involved with the proposed new Safe Harbor location.

To do so, city commissioners met with a representative from conflict resolution services.

“The whole issue as to what to do with wellington street has created controversy,” said Michael Estes, Traverse City Mayor. “Our neighborhoods appear to be split about how to move forward.”

…a divide that doesn’t affect everyone but could still be seen at tonight’s meeting.

“One thing we don’t want is a split community as we deal with the issues in the future so if mediation will help us solve a problem, then we need to move forward on it,” Estes said.

When this building became the proposed site of a new Safe Harbor emergency homeless shelter, some local business owners opposed the plan.

“It’s not good for the corridor,” said Charlene Hunt, a local business owner. “It’s not good for the businesses and that’s just on the perception of a homeless shelter.”

Others, like those from Safe Harbor, see it differently.

“We would like the opportunity to clear up some misconceptions about our plan and about the guests that we serve, the homeless that we serve,” said Christine Minervini, a board member of Safe Harbor.

Several ideas were brought to the board by someone from Conflict Resolution Services, included a possible public mediation.

While no official decision was made tonight, most commissioners opposed it.

“Neighborhoods won’t always be satisfied,” Estes said. “Individual groups requesting an issue won’t be satisfied so if the commission can resolve within itself that they are moving in the right path, I think that’s the most important issue.”

Commissioners will meet again to hear public comment.

Until a balance can be found between the sides, commissioners say a decision to move forward will be difficult.