Ch­ester­wye con­sid­ers shel­ter site for group home

Record Observer - - News - By MIKE DAVIS mdavis@kibay­

STEVENSVILLE — Queen Anne’s County res­i­dents will have the op­por­tu­nity to hear about the pro­posed partnership be­tween the county gov­ern­ment and Ch­ester­wye Cen­ter Inc. dur­ing a meet­ing on April 13 re­gard­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tion po­ten­tially mov­ing in and op­er­at­ing the 325 State Street prop­erty in Stevensville.

At the 7 p.m. pub­lic hear­ing at the Percy Thomas Cen­ter, 891 Love Point Road, county and Ch­ester­wye of­fi­cials will be on hand to re­view the pro­posed fa­cil­ity de­sign as well as an­swer any ques­tions about the po­ten­tial partnership. The de­sign will be pre­sented by ar­chi­tect David Wood­ward of Manns Wood­ward Stu­dio.

Ch­ester­wye Cen­ter Inc., lo­cated at 101 Ch­ester­wye Lane in Gra­sonville, was founded in 1967 and fo­cuses its ef­forts in aid­ing adults with in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties and has 100 staff mem­bers to serve the needs of 70 adults, ac­cord­ing to its web­site.

The pro­posed de­signs in­clude a one-story, four bed­room, three bath­room fa­cil­ity that would house Ch­ester­wye in­di­vid­u­als ac­com­pa­nied by an around the clock full-time staff per­son. De­bra Langseth, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Ch­ester­wye Cen­ter Inc., said the house will ex­pand upon the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s mis­sion and will tar­get in­di­vid­u­als who use a wheel­chair.

Langseth said it’s an “ex­cit­ing prospect” and has en­joyed work­ing with the county “to fig­ure out the best way we can meet ev­ery­one’s needs.” She said “it’s a real op­por­tu­nity for the com­mu­nity to stand be­hind peo­ple that have very sig­nif­i­cant phys­i­cal chal­lenges.”

The prop­erty, which was hotly con­tested last spring by a group of Kent Is­land com­mu­nity mem­bers, was slated to be­come a tran­si­tional home­less shel­ter op­er­ated by Haven Min­istries Inc. The county re­ceived mul­ti­ple grants to pur­chase the prop­erty and cre­ate ar­chi­tec­tural draw­ings for the then multi-level fa­cil­ity. When the county and Haven Min­istries couldn’t agree on stip­u­la­tions in a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing, dis­cus­sions stopped and Haven Min­istries was no longer in­volved in the op­er­a­tion of the prop­erty.

Be­cause the county used state grant money for prop­erty im­prove­ment de­signs that are no longer ap­pli­ca­ble be- cause the pro­posed provider has changed, the Mary­land Depart­ment of Hous­ing and Com­mu­nity Devel­op­ment asked the county in a De­cem­ber 2 let­ter to pay back the Com­mu­nity Devel­op­ment Block Grant (CDBG) it re­ceived for de­signs or find a new ten­ant that ful­fills the grants re­quire­ments. It stated the prop­erty must op­er­ate as a tran­si­tional shel­ter through 2018 to sat­isfy the grant the county re­ceived and used to pur­chase the prop­erty.

In the let­ter sent to the county, Sec­re­tary Ken­neth Holt ad­vised that the state would be “pleased to help you work with the Ch­ester­wye Cen­ter, Inc. with their ef­forts to pro­vide hous­ing for adults with dis­abil­i­ties.” The let­ter stated the com­mu­nity Ch­ester­wye serves would sat­isfy the grant’s tran­si­tional shel­ter re­quire­ments and stated the county could use the re­main­der of the grant money to de­mol­ish the ex­ist­ing fa­cil­ity and build a new, smaller house.

“The tim­ing for this could not have been bet­ter,” Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Mark An­der­son said. “...I think if you look at the 325 State Street lo­ca­tion and we tear down the build­ing that ex­ists there and put up a build­ing that looks more res­i­den­tial in ap­pear­ance and we have Ch­ester­wye in­volved...I think we’ll find sup­port within the com­mu­nity for that kind of pro­posal.”

In De­cem­ber, one of Ch­ester­wye’s homes in Gra­sonville caught on fire and be­came un­liv­able. Langseth said the res­i­dents oc­cu­py­ing the home were moved into a rental home. The re­main­der of the build­ing was de­mol­ished last week, Langseth said, and re­con­struc­tion bids will be sent out this week as the or­ga­ni­za­tion looks to re­build its prop­erty.

But be­fore Ch­ester­wye lost one of its nine fa­cil­i­ties, Langseth said the or­ga­ni­za­tion reached out to the county in the fall ask­ing if it had any prop­er­ties avail­able as the or­ga­ni­za­tion wanted to sup­port more peo­ple and looked to ex­pand.

“Whether it’s the crowd that’s eco­nom­i­cally needy or needy be­cause of de­vel­op­men­tal or dis­abil­ity is­sues...I think we try to ac­com­mo­date the best we can the will of the peo­ple,” Com­mis­sioner Stephen Wil­son said.

Com­mis­sioner Jack Wil­son said he sup­ports this new ef­fort with Ch­ester­wye “100 per­cent” and is glad that “all things are fall­ing into place fi­nally.”

Though At-large Com­mis­sioner Jim Mo­ran, who sup­ported Haven Min­istries’ ef­forts while op­er­at­ing the State Street house and fought to keep them in the build­ing, said he is happy a user might move in and use the fa­cil­ity, he still be­lieves that prop­erty should be a home­less shel­ter like it was sup­posed to be.

“Nat­u­rally I’m dis­ap­pointed that it’s not a home­less shel­ter be­cause that’s what it was slated for for the past eight years. That wasn’t cost­ing us...a nickel of county tax money,” Mo­ran said. “But since that has since been turned away, I’m grate­ful we’re able to help Ch­ester­wye.”

Mo­ran called this po­ten­tial agree­ment “a so­lu­tion to a prob­lem” be­cause when the county de­cided not to move for­ward with Haven Min­istries and its tran­si­tional home­less shel­ter, like the Mat­a­peake Pro­fes­sional Park, if the grant is not sat­is­fied the county is on the hook for the money lost and the state has in­di­cated it will col­lect the wasted money. “This was our last re­sort to save the tax­pay­ers from hav­ing to pay back the re­main­der of the money,” he said.

Jonathan See­man, di­rec­tor of bud­get, finance and IT, did not re­turn a mes­sage re­gard­ing the sta­tus of the grants and where the county stands in sat­is­fy­ing them.

“It seems to me that we have a win-win all around,” An­der­son said. “Dare I even say such a thing given the volatil­ity of this topic not too many months ago, but I have high hopes that with in­put from var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ties un­der­stand­ing the grant and the strings at­tached to grants, that this com­mis­sion is go­ing to pro­duce some­thing that clearly is a win-win.”

Sign lan­guage in­ter­preters and lis­ten­ing sys­tems will be avail­able for in­di­vid­u­als with hear­ing im­pair­ments. For more in­for­ma­tion, con­tact Tina Miles at 410-758-2126 seven days be­fore the meet­ing if as­sis­tance is nec­es­sary.

Com­mis­sioner Robert Buckey did not re­turn a call for com­ment be­fore the pa­per went to print.

For more in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing the Ch­ester­wye Cen­ter and its ser­vices, visit its web­site:­ester­wye. com.


An in­for­ma­tional meet­ing re­gard­ing the 325 State Street prop­erty in Stevensville will be held at the Percy Thomas Cen­ter, 891 Love Point Rd., at 7 p.m. on April 13 to dis­cuss with the com­mu­nity a po­ten­tial partnership be­tween the county and Ch­ester­wye Cen­ter Inc. re­gard­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tion op­er­at­ing the fa­cil­ity.

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