The Readers Write: Concerns over Harbor Place

On April 28 a group of about 20 residents from Hullcrest/Hedgerow and surrounding neighborhoods in Shelburne attended a Selectboard meeting. After discussion with neighbors, I agreed to speak on behalf many of them. Below are my comments.

The reason I am [writing this] is to express my concerns about safety and quality of life issues in my neighborhood.

I have been a resident of Shelburne for almost 30 years.

On April 10 neighbors called and were afraid after seeing police and a police dog in our neighborhood in the middle of the day. They were very concerned and when they spoke with the police they were told the suspect was in custody. My neighbors mentioned when they walked that they always carried a cell phone with them. One of the officers (not from Shelburne) said “You need more than that.”

I called Shelburne P.D. and spoke with the Officer-in-Charge who was very helpful. He advised that the suspect was in custody and was a wanted felon from out of state. I also saw this on WCAX. The person had been “visiting” Harbor Place.

Prior to this I have been reading news articles and seeing news clips about the overwhelming number of police and rescue calls to Harbor Place. That is no surprise to us because we constantly hear sirens day and night on Shelburne Road and they stop at the end of our street which is across from Harbor Place. We also see the police there at all times of the day.

The heroin bust was yet another felon who fled into a neighborhood. It doesn’t matter to me if these felons are residents or guests of Harbor Place–their presence is a danger to everyone.

When Harbor Place moved into our neighborhood we knew almost nothing about it. It happened very quickly and we were shocked to learn that Paul Bohne, our former Town Manager, was also the President of the Board of Directors of the Champlain Housing trust.

Although I did not feel like a stakeholder or someone who had any say, I was cautiously optimistic that this would be a safe place for homeless families. I do not believe this is the case.

Harbor Place has attracted criminals and drugs and if there are any families with children living there I fear for their safety.

Every year we send a donation to our fabulous Rescue Squad–often giving more than the suggested donation. Who is paying for the calls to Harbor Place?

We also have a dedicated but small police department. I am wondering who is protecting the rest of Shelburne when our P.D. is constantly at Harbor Place. Last year they went on 185 calls to Harbor Place. Yesterday they were there two times.

Harbor Place is not working, not as a safe place for anyone to live. Its effects are reaching into the surrounding neighborhoods.

Neighbors (many elderly) feel unsafe to walk and even be in their homes. I feel unsafe. I no longer go to my mailbox if I come home after dark.

Our greatest fear is that there will be more homeless housing like Harbor Place suddenly being put in to the 3-4 motels that are for sale within a mile of our neighborhood.

Something needs to be done, Harbor Place needs to go and we are counting on you. Thank you for your time.

Patty Kissell, Shelburne