OUR VIEW: Town hall meeting a good idea
No issue has drawn as much attention — on both sides of the coin — as the impending demise of the Shelter From the Storm.
Residents involved with the ad hoc groups Save Our Shelter and Concerned Community Members for a Family Justice Center will hold a panel discussion and question and answer session in the Community Room of Cook Memorial Library.
Those residents who can should make it a point to attend the meeting.
The community forum kicks off at 7 p.m. Thursday.
The town hall meeting is intended to educate the public about Shelter From the Storm, which faces a September eviction following a unanimous March decision by the Union County Board of Commissioners to site a new county courthouse on the footprint of the shelter building. Shelter supporters have protested the decision, asking commissioners to find a way to build a new court facility in a way that does not interrupt shelter functions.
Commissioners have stood by the decision, saying the funding for the court facility is an unprecedented move by the state and that the funding could be in jeopardy if the county does not move to construct the courthouse within the state’s tight deadline. Shelter supporters say the domestic violence resource’s services will be negatively impacted if the nonprofit has to move.
The meeting is a positive step to increase community dialogue and to keep the shelter’s plight in the spotlight. While it is good to have the community engaged in discussions, none of it will mean anything unless the county commissioners join everyone else at the discussion table, something they have been unwilling to do, using the “legal counsel” excuse for staying quiet on the issue.
That’s too bad. Especially since input from elected leaders would go a long way, we think, to clearing up misconceptions regarding this issue.
And, really, elected leaders have an ultimate responsibility to the people — not attorneys. Yes, the matter is now one in the legal sphere but simply waving away the idea of providing input because of advice from attorneys smacks of a lack of interest in the entire issue.
No one says elected leaders must present their legal case at the meeting. But an appearance and a general discussion surely would seem reasonable.